What Actually Makes Someone Attractive? - Macken Murphy

What Actually Makes Someone Attractive? - Macken Murphy

What Actually Makes an Attractive Face? (00:00:00)

  • Averageness and symmetry are key factors in facial attractiveness.
  • Faces that are mathematically average in terms of nose size, shape, and placement are often perceived as more attractive.
  • Symmetry is often associated with underlying developmental qualities, health, and the absence of genetic disorders.
  • There are many individuals with non-average or asymmetrical features who are still considered attractive.
  • Highly asymmetric or non-typical features can make someone appear less attractive.

The Benefit of a Feminine Face (00:05:30)

  • Men and women are attracted to stereotypically feminine and masculine faces in their respective partners.
  • The masculinity trade-off hypothesis suggests that women may prefer less masculine men for long-term relationships due to potential negative traits associated with high masculinity.
  • There is no clear consensus on whether women prefer clean-shaven or bushy beards, but heavy stubble appears to be the most preferred facial hair.
  • A strong jawline is considered attractive in men because it follows the same contour line that makeup does on women, and heavy stubble suggests that a man is regularly maintaining his appearance.

How Facial Cosmetics Send Signals (00:13:56)

  • Facial cosmetics send signals about a person's lifestyle and socioeconomic status.
  • In some cultures, a tan signals that a person works outdoors and has leisure time, while in other cultures, a tan signals that a person works indoors and has a high-status job.
  • Stubble or a beard can signal that a person is rugged and outdoorsy, while clean-shaven can signal that a person is professional and corporate.
  • The more casually a person dresses, the more money they may earn.
  • Women's beauty signaling often involves appearing as if they do not work, such as carrying a handbag, having long nails, long hair, and wearing dresses that restrict movement.
  • Men's fashion is often practical, with many pockets and comfortable clothing.

Describing the Most Attractive Eye (00:18:17)

  • There is no specific literature on what makes an attractive eye.
  • Some attractive eye features include a dark ring around the iris (limbo ring) and a clear sclera.
  • Eye color preferences vary and are influenced by frequency-dependent selection.
  • Canthal tilt (the slope of the eyes) seems to be a popular preference, but there is limited research on it.
  • Many famous actors considered gorgeous by women have negative or positive canthal tilts.

Why Are Faces Important? (00:20:20)

  • Facial attractiveness signals underlying qualities such as conscientiousness, reliability, and agency.
  • Bodies and style also matter because they signal qualities like dominance, aggression, reliability, orderliness, ability to overcome pain, agency, consistency, and intelligence.
  • Attractiveness is not solely determined by extreme physical traits but rather by moderate levels of desirable characteristics.
  • Overdoing certain traits can be perceived as a sign of insecurity or compensation.
  • The "averageness" of facial features and processing speed contribute to attractiveness.
  • People can find beauty in imperfections that fall within a certain range of normalcy.

Do Women Like Muscular Men? (00:26:28)

  • Muscularity plays a role in mating success, even if it is not universally preferred in facial features.
  • Muscular men tend to have higher mating success, regardless of what people say is attractive.
  • Muscularity can help men compete for mates by making them appear more intimidating, which can be more effective than being conventionally attractive.
  • Traits associated with building muscles may also be linked to aggressive pursuit of short-term mating.
  • Mating success measured by the number of mates may not be a reliable indicator of overall mate value.

Do Men Like Heavier Women? (00:31:34)

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of weight per height but does not accurately assess health or muscularity.
  • Male preferences for female body size vary across cultures and time periods.
  • In Western societies, men generally prefer women with lower BMIs, while in more traditional societies, women with higher BMIs are often considered more attractive.
  • Conspicuous fat deposits in women, such as on the breasts, buttocks, and hips, serve as sexual signals.
  • The "environmental security hypothesis" suggests that heavier mates are preferred in resource-scarce environments, both within and across cultures.
  • A curvier figure may be more attractive to most men throughout history, with male preference for female body size influenced by environmental factors.

Men’s Tastes Are Shaped by Social Ecology (00:42:11)

  • Men's preferences for women's body size are influenced by their socio-ecological environment.
  • Men who grew up in stressed or resource-deprived environments tend to prefer larger women.
  • There may be a cultural adaptation where cultures develop preferences for certain body types over time.
  • Individual-level developmental mechanisms can also shape men's preferences.
  • Immediate cues, such as hunger, can also temporarily alter men's mate preferences.
  • Studies have shown that women respond to their local socio-economic environment by altering their appearance and posting beautifying photos on social media.
  • Behavioral ecology studies the relationships between variables that influence human behavior, combining elements of behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology.

Is There a Generally Attractive Waist to Hip Ratio? (00:46:10)

  • The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is often considered a universal preference for men, with a preference for a lower WHR (e.g., 0.68).
  • In Westernized societies, an even more extreme WHR (closer to the "Kim Kardashian" type) is observed.
  • However, there is evidence suggesting that in environments where women engage in more physical labor, a wider WHR may be preferred.
  • Body shape and fat distribution play a role in attractiveness, not just BMI alone.
  • Larger women with fat deposits in the buttocks and breasts may be perceived as more attractive in certain cultural contexts.
  • For men, BMI may be less important than shoulder width and arm size in determining attractiveness.
  • Height also plays a role in attractiveness for both men and women.

What Role Does Height Play in Attraction? (00:54:27)

  • Women tend to prefer men who are taller than average, with the ideal male height being around 6'3" to 6'5".
  • Women's height preferences follow a "candy cane" curve, with a sharp increase in attractiveness for men between 5'4" and 5'8", a gradual increase up to 6'1", and then diminishing returns beyond that point.
  • Men generally prefer women who are shorter than them, while women prefer men who are taller than them.
  • Richer and more educated women are more likely to be married and less likely to be divorced, but they may have difficulty finding partners who are equally or more wealthy and educated.
  • Women in Europe are becoming more willing to date men who are less wealthy or educated than they are.

What Happens When the Female is the Breadwinner (01:02:12)

  • There is a correlation between the decrease in hypergamous dating and the increase in domestic violence, suggesting that men whose partners earn more than them may resort to violence as a mating strategy.
  • Many internet personalities discuss topics they know little about, leading to misinformation and oversimplified conclusions.
  • Women often struggle to find men they perceive to be at their level in terms of income, education, and other socioeconomic factors.
  • Women who are more educated and wealthy tend to be more married and less divorced.
  • Women's preference for socioeconomic success in a partner increases when they intend to be the primary breadwinner.
  • Hormonal birth control may have contributed to increasing divorce rates by reducing women's financial dependence on their husbands.
  • To gauge someone's honesty, ask them:
    • When was the last time they changed their mind on something?
    • Do they primarily identify out groups to bond their in group together?
    • How often do they genuinely admit mistakes?
    • Do they want to hear alternative points of view for reasons other than mocking them?

Worst Mating & Dating Myths (01:12:14)

  • The myth that body count (number of past sexual partners) is a predictor of bad outcomes in long-term relationships is supported by research.
  • Sociosexuality, which can be partially measured by past sexual partners, plays a role in relationship outcomes.
  • The optimal number of past sexual partners for long-term relationship success is around 3-4.
  • Preferences for body count in potential partners tend to follow a bell curve, with a preference for a moderate number of partners and a decrease in desirability for very low or very high numbers.
  • The idea that body count only matters for women and not men is a myth, as research shows similar negative outcomes for men with high body counts.
  • While arguments can be made against casual sex on societal and individual levels, applying these arguments only to women is sexist and ignores the data showing similar effects in men.
  • Promoting contradictory recommendations for men and women, such as encouraging men to have fun and sleep around while advising women not to, is not a viable solution.

Are Women Really More Picky? (01:16:00)

  • Women are more selective in their mating choices compared to men and are attracted to a smaller subset of men.
  • Attractiveness is perceived by individuals, and women are generally considered more attractive on average.
  • Women prioritize factors beyond physical appearance, placing less emphasis on looks compared to men.
  • The "black pill philosophy" suggests that men below a certain threshold of attractiveness (LMS: looks, money, status) are unable to attract women.
  • Women spend significantly more time enhancing their physical attractiveness compared to men.
  • There is individual variance in the ability to build muscle, with some people having a genetic advantage.
  • Women generally take more time and effort to get ready compared to men, due to cultural technologies such as makeup and hair products.

Discriminating Based on Hair Colour (01:26:00)

  • Evolutionary psychology suggests that men generally prefer lighter hair colors in women because they signal youth and reproductive potential.
  • Lighter hair colors are often associated with youthfulness, as hair darkens with age.
  • In Western societies, where hair color diversity is significant, many women lighten their hair, potentially influenced by the male preference for lighter hair.
  • In monogamous societies, men tend to prefer women with lighter hair, while women tend to prefer men with darker hair, which may be a signal of age.
  • Age gaps in relationships are influenced by various factors, including social norms, personal preferences, and evolutionary psychology.

Do Men Want Wider Age Gaps as They Age? (01:30:59)

  • Men's physical attraction to women seems to peak in their early 20s.
  • As men age, they tend to filter out extremely young women but prefer increasingly wider age gaps.
  • This preference could be influenced by societal perceptions and the desire for mates that signal higher mate value.
  • In countries where women have more freedom to choose, they tend to prefer men who are slightly older (2-4 years).
  • This preference is becoming smaller as age gaps are decreasing.
  • Women prioritize indirect benefits (genetic quality) and direct benefits (resources and compatibility) when choosing mates.
  • Focusing too much on either indirect or direct benefits can lead to missing the whole picture.
  • Older mates offer more direct benefits such as money and status but have declining indirect benefits (sperm quality, genetic health, attractiveness).
  • In cultures where women have control over their resources, they choose men who provide a balance of direct and indirect benefits.
  • There may also be a direct benefit to having a mate close in age who can help raise children.

How Attractive Are Tattoos? (01:35:16)

  • Women perceive men with tattoos as healthier, more masculine, and more dominant, but less likely to be good husbands and fathers.
  • Women with fake tattoos were approached more by men on the beach than women without tattoos, suggesting that tattoos may signal openness to casual encounters.
  • Beauty signaling is not always about signaling attractiveness, but can also signal underlying personality traits.
  • People with tattoos tend to have higher sociosexuality, which is associated with casual sexual behavior.

What You Need to Know About Stated v Revealed Preferences (01:41:20)

  • Physical attractiveness is a crucial factor in initial attraction but may not be as significant in long-term relationships.
  • Stated preferences (what people say they want) and revealed preferences (what people actually do) can provide different insights into human behavior and mate selection.
  • Men tend to pair with educated and wealthy women, despite claiming not to prioritize these traits.
  • People tend to pair off with others of similar attractiveness and socioeconomic status.
  • Exposure and opportunity play a role in partner selection, as people often date and marry those they encounter in their local environment.
  • To understand human mating behavior, it's essential to consider both what people say and what they do, as well as the overall coherence of their actions and desires.

The Counter-Signal of Saying ‘I Don’t Know’ (01:51:37)

  • Behavioral genetics research suggests that people's social status is influenced by both genetic factors and assortative or unassortative mating, but their family background plays a significant role.
  • Evolutionary psychologists acknowledge the limitations of their knowledge and engage in thought experiments based on evolutionary principles to explore potential explanations for human behavior.
  • Evolutionary psychology emphasizes the shared nature of humans and has made significant contributions to understanding mate preferences, but it needs to be combined with socio-ecology to fully understand human behavior and attraction.
  • Behavioral ecology may be better at predicting behavior as it considers the influence of culture, environment, and nature.
  • Attractiveness involves physical appearance, personality, and behavior, and it is influenced by cultural factors such as socioeconomic inequality and the sex ratio hypothesis.
  • People are attracted to those who are confident, kind, have a good sense of humor, and share similar values, interests, and personality.
  • Attractiveness is subjective and varies from person to person.

Where to Find Macken (02:01:28)

  • To find Macken's social media presence, search his name on Google and follow him.
  • For his academic work, stay tuned for updates.
  • For his corporate work, check out the app called "coule" (c.in) which is designed to improve relationships by incorporating scientific principles.

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