Attraction

Online dating impacting the way people choose partners.

couple online dating | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

The assortative mating theory suggests that people choose partners who are similar to themselves in many ways, such as education, background, social class, personality, and attractiveness. There's now a substantial amount of research to support the theory.

When it comes to physical attractiveness, this means that people of similar attractiveness typically pair up. But, and this is a big but, the longer that people know each other, the less important physical attractiveness seems to be.

In other words, physical attractiveness plays a larger role in who people choose when they don't know each other well. With more time to get to know one another, many other variables start to play an important role in partner choice.

Additionally, relationship and partner satisfaction in the longer term seem to have less to do with partner attractiveness than other partner attributes.

The article below discusses this in the context of online dating, where there are limitless partner options and people have little chance to get to know each other before they date.

From Priceonomics:

Online Dating and the Death of the 'Mixed-Attractiveness' Couple
by Alex Mayyasi
When was the last time you met a couple where one person was attractive and the other was not? 
There’s no reason couples like that should stand out—except for the fact that they are so rare. Seeing it can set off an uncharitable search for an explanation. Is the plain one rich or funny? Is the attractive one boring or unintelligent? 
While love-seeking singles speak of this dynamic through euphemisms like “she’s out of my league”, economists and psychologists have dismally documented it.  
"We think we have highly idiosyncratic preferences,” psychologist Paul Eastwick has said of dating, “but there's just no compelling evidence that those preferences [matter] once people actually meet face-to-face.” Experiments run by OKCupid, a dating site that matches singles by asking them which qualities they care about in a partner, support this idea
Instead it’s well established among academics interested in dating that “opposites attract” is a myth. Study after study supports the idea of “assortative mating”: the hypothesis that people generally date and marry partners who are like them in terms of social class, educational background, race, personality, and, of course, attractiveness. 
To use fratboy vernacular: 7s date other 7s, and a 3 has no chance with a 10.
There is an exception, however, to this seeming rule that people always date equally attractive people: The longer two people know each other before they start dating, the more likely it is that a 3 will date a 6, or a 7 will marry a 10. 

Read the rest here: link.

What it's like to be a romance novels cover model.

romance novels beefcake model hot | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Curious about what it takes to be a romance novels cover model?

The romance novel industry is growing at a rapid rate. In 2013, it was worth almost 1.1 billion dollars and the expectations are that it's going to be worth even more as new reading platforms continue to develop.

Consumers are no longer satisfied with paintings of Fabio gracing the covers. They're demanding photos of men, and variety. While the demand is there, the money for models isn't.

From the New York Times:

With Romance Novels Booming, Beefcake Sells, but It Doesn’t Pay
This corner of the book world is red hot and among the most innovative, with
e-books and apps, and it needs a steady stream of fresh-faced cover models.
By Laura M. Holson
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Jason Aaron Baca is good-looking, not handsome like the Ryans (Gosling and Reynolds) or rugged like Daniel Craig, who is fetching in a tailored Tom Ford suit. But when Mr. Baca, 42, slipped on a pair of dark aviator glasses recently, he looked remarkably like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.”
He was dressed for work in a khaki military jumpsuit. And even though it was barely noon, he had already stopped by the gym to make sure his biceps and legs looked combat-strong. His assignment: To be a military helicopter pilot saved in a crash by a female rescuer with whom he once had a torrid affair. Now that they’re reunited, their passions have flared.
Mr. Baca is a cover model for romance novels. He has been on nearly 500 book covers, by his own account — one of scores of men like him vying to be heroic heartthrobs. Not since the flaxen-haired Fabio Lanzoni dominated drugstore book racks in the 1980s and 1990s, with his lion’s mane and bulging biceps, have cover models been in such demand.

Read the rest here: link.

 

Dove's viral ad campaigns: Evolution and Real Beauty Sketches.

Repost.

The media often feeds into our ideals when it comes to physical appearance and attractiveness. It's also likely that our ideals inform what the media chooses to portray (in other words, it's a two-way street).

When it comes to celebrities, this makes sense - they are paid to be our fantasies. And when it comes to marketing and advertising, there is clearly value in connecting products and experiences with people who are very attractive. This, in and of  itself, isn't necessarily a concern.

It does become a concern, though, when people start to compare themselves and others to these ideals, ideals which are largely unrealistic. For some people, these comparisons aren't just passing thoughts - they become fixated on them, and go down the rabbit hole of anxiety and negative self-image.

Additionally, almost all media images and even TV/movies/commercials involve significant production (e.g., makeup, hair, etc.) and employ digital manipulation, typically in post-processing (e.g., photoshop), to make actors and models even more so-called attractive. So the comparisons that consumers are making are not even with real people.

Dove has come up with several marketing campaigns intended to challenge beauty ideals portrayed in media.

Keep in mind the Dove is owned by Unilever, who also own AxeAxe isn't exactly social progressive when it comes to healthy representations of women in particular. Also keep in mind that these are marketing campaigns - they were intended to increase Dove's sales, and they were very successful in doing so. So are these campaigns really about making the world a better place, or are they about making shitloads of money off of women's insecurities, but in an indirect way?

First campaign: Evolution

 

The next campaign: Real Beauty Sketches

If you haven't seen the ad yet, watch it first before reading the rest of this post:

 

Now on the surface, this seems lovely and all - Women, you're more beautiful than you think! Now buy our product! But most commentators have have been highly critical, calling the ad campaign patronizing, manipulative, and worse. Here's some commentary from the Globe and Mail:

Dove’s new campaign: Real beauty or sentimental manipulation?

[...]

Women have reportedly wept over this video. And who could blame them? The soft lighting and schmaltzy music were calculated to jerk those tears out come hell or high water, preferably the latter. For Dove, this latest effort in its successful Real Beauty Campaign, launched in 2004, was a highbrow social experiment. To me, it’s sentimental manipulation, sentimental because it encourages women to rerun that old script of themselves as noble but underappreciated, smart but self-sabotaging, hard-working but undermined by societal beauty pressure. It’s the kind of underdog myth that gets women feeling all cozy and sisterly about their dear, beleaguered psyches, which invariably need a pat on the back.

The Beauty Sketches video felt out of touch not only with modern, confident women in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In wave of feminism – some might even take it as a backlash to it – but also with the complex etiquette of vanity. Every woman knows that even if she considers herself pretty, it’s inappropriate to brag about it. In an interview situation, she would never go on and on about the beauty of her eyes (hence the unlikeliness of my tongue-in-cheek script). The judgment of her would be cruel. And yet the glaring paradox is that we’re living in a highly narcissistic digital culture that encourages vanity. Just have a look at the comment threads of teenaged girls on Facebook, a fascinating study in vanity manners and disingenuous modesty. Often, they will post a flattering picture of themselves looking beautiful and then express surprise when friends respond with compliments. “Really?” they will write in the thread. “Thx! U R pretty too!”

Almost immediately (and inevitably), a video spoof of the Dove Beauty Sketches campaign surfaced, featuring men who report feeling great about their looks (one says he thinks he looks like a “white Denzel Washington”) while casual onlookers express otherwise. It’s tag line: “Men: You’re less beautiful than you think.” The humour was a powerful and confident response suggesting that, while women acknowledge the differences in vanity issues between the sexes, stereotyping them in such a simplistic fashion is just plain hilarious for all concerned, men and women.

And this is also why I don’t get too worked up about the perceived hypocrisy that a company that sells beauty products (including skinlightening creams in countries such as India) claims to be worried about how women are overly critical about their looks. Hey, that’s marketing, which I think most Western women get. And if they don’t, then they’re not paying attention, because just as we’re bombarded with beauty messages, so are we deluged with commentary about how we should be wary of them.

So, yes, the whole Real Beauty premise is just a cleverly subversive piece of communication: To avoid the beauty industry’s messages about what to look like, you should buy our product. But let’s be honest: In one way or another, women are complicit in these pitches about how to improve themselves. That’s what the fashion/beauty industry is all about. And if we choose to engage in it, it’s mostly because doing so is a lot more fun than paying income tax.

Most women, on the whole, are very aware of which aspects of their looks they like and which parts they hate. That’s life – unless you consult a plastic surgeon. Even Elizabeth Taylor, whose face was a masterpiece, hated her chin. It was too small, apparently. Not that she would have made note of that if she were asked about her appearance. And that’s because she would have known that we hate beautiful women who quibble about their smallest, inconsequential self-perceived flaw.

The spoof video:

This criticism has been echoed elsewhere, for example:

Reddit thread

Huffington Post

And some more silliness, to lighten things up:

What Google searches tell us about peoples' sex lives.

Google makes all of its search data publicly available. According to Google, 100 billion searches are done each month. That means a lot of data. And because sex is something that is searched often, there is a treasure trove of sex-related search data for the taking. 

This piece in the New York Times by economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz digs deep into the Google search data to tell us about our anxieties and the states of our relationships. There are a couple of nifty infographics that summarize his findings. The piece is worth a read - it's fun and informative.

From the New York Times

Searching for Sex
ARE you confused by sex? I certainly am.
One of the many reasons sex is puzzling is that we lack reliable data. People lie to friends, lovers, doctors, surveys and themselves.
Three years ago, when I was a graduate student in economics, I began to write about how new data, particularly Google searches, could give us fresh insights into socially sensitive topics. Since then, many people have asked me to write about sex.
I was wary because I wanted to do more research. Now I’m finally ready to report. Call it everything you always wanted to know about sex, but didn’t have the data to ask.
Let’s start with the basics. How much sex are we having? Traditional surveys are no good at answering this question.
I analyzed data from the General Social Survey, a classic source. Heterosexual men 18 and over say that they average 63 sex acts per year, using a condom in 23 percent of them. This adds up to more than 1.6 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.

And one of the infographics: 

Google sex searches marriage sexual behavior | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Read the rest here: link.

 

XKCD takes on Pick Up Artists.

For those unfamiliar with pick up artists (PUA) or the seduction scene, it's a loose-knit group of guys who have turned to tricks and sometimes manipulation to pick up and sleep with women. These men have typically been rejected many times over, have low self-esteem, and rage with resent and a sense of entitlement when it comes to sex.

There are PUA books, websites, etc. that provide tips and techniques. One of the most notorious strategies is called negging. Negging is underhanded compliments or thinly veiled insults that are intended to undermine the confidence of women. They typically are about appearance. The idea behind negging is that it puts the guy doing the negging in a position of power by discounting the woman's attractiveness, with the hopes that she will then try to gain his approval.

Here are some samples:

With that wit, it’s a good thing you’re pretty.

In one more drink I’ll be ready to hit on you.

Nice nails, are they real?

You have little crinkles around your eyes when you laugh

It's kind of rude to chew with your mouth open.

That outfit is really sharp. It would look much better if it were (some other color).

Nice, right? And PAUs wonder why they have a terrible reputation.

XKCD, in typical brilliant fashion, takes on the stupidity of negging with this strip:

Female ideal body shapes throughout the ages.

There is a distinction between cultural influences on what we idealize, and the aesthetic preferences that seem to be hard-wired (i.e., across cultures and time). Often, the two are difficult to untangle. With that in mind, the following video from Buzzfeed purports to show varying female body ideals throughout history. Aside from the fact that all the models are ridiculously attractive, it's still an interesting clip, if not entirely reliable. It is also necessary to point out that there is large individual variation in what people find attractive, and the importance people place on physical attractiveness. In other words, people's individual preferences often deviate from the ideals, and physical attraction often takes a back seat to other traits that are more important in terms of attraction (e.g., personality, interpersonal style, etc.).

Video retouching.

Second post on retouching, following up on the Dove marketing campaigns.

We tend to compare our physical attractiveness to the ideals presented to us by the media. However, the images and videos we see have been significantly changed during post-processing. In other words, what we see does not represent any sort of reality. This is the first example that I've seen of 'live' video retouching.

The Cheerleader Effect.

The Cheerleader Effect: people in groups appear more attractive than on their own. This theory has been around for a while but a recent study has provided some supportive evidence. The study was published in Psychological Science (link).

From an article at Social Student describing the study:

The study showed participants pictures of 100 people and asked them to rate their attractiveness. Sometimes the person being rated was in a group and other times the picture had been cropped to show them alone. Staggeringly, participants rated both male and female subjects more attractive in the group shots than when pictured alone! The rating was not substantially higher, but enough to bounce someone’s attractiveness up by about 2 or 3% and let’s be honest, some of us need all the help we can get!
Now you may be wondering, if a groups looks are averaged, wouldn’t the more attractive people be brought down by their less attractive friends? Well here is the mini cherry on top of the regular cherry on top of the sundae of awesomeness that is this study. It turns out that when we average the faces of a group, whether attractive or unattractive, we actually prefer their ‘new faces’ to the original because their idiosyncrasies have been averaged out. What this means is, “individuals with complimentary facial features — one person with narrow eyes and one person with wide eyes, for example — would enjoy a greater boost in perceived attractiveness when seen together, as compared to groups comprised of individuals who have more similar features.”

 

A dominatrix challenges some long-held beliefs.

A very unique perspective on some of our cultural myths and assumptions, from a professional dominatrix.

From the article at the Rumpus:

There’s no such thing as:

  1. Intimacy without vulnerability
  2. An accurate definition of sex 
  3. A typical submissive man
  4. A woman who isn’t someone’s wildest fantasy
  5. A neat cause-and-effect explanation for the nuances of human psychology
  6. “Normal”
  7. A replacement for hard work
  8. A one-sided relationship
  9. Universal taboos
  10. A good age to stop playing

Read the whole thing to get all the details(it's a good read): link.

Art: The Great Wall of Vagina.

I've posted about this project previously (link), but it's come up again - two students passed along a link to a recent article in Cosmopolitan.

From Cosmopolitan:

McCartney says the vagina has become something that companies have begun shaming people for so they can make money off of them by telling the they need to have surgery to make it look better, saying, "I do believe that cosmetic surgery is a fairly unnecessary procedure, it's a psychological problem. There's a whole industry base set up to persuade women they're defective and to give them an answer." He says he gets letters almost daily from women wanting to volunteer or who have told him that his artwork has helped with the anxiety they had surrounding the appearance of their vaginas.

[...]

His hope is that the project will help women of all ages (which is something that is desperately needed), since he says, "every generation is going to go through the same anxieties, every girl is going to think, 'Oh my god, what's wrong with me'." 

And his artist statement:

For this, my latest major sculpture, I cast, over the course of 5 years, the vaginas (well the vulva area in fact) of hundreds of volunteers. The Great Wall of Vagina is an exploration of women's relationships with their genitals. When I assembled the first panel of 40 casts in summer 2008, I stepped back disappointed. I realised the sculpture would need to be much bigger to have the impact I wanted. From this original piece (called Design A Vagina) has grown an epic sculpture. The final piece now has 400 casts arranged in 10 panels of 40.
"Why did I do it and what's it all about?" I hear you ask. Well, it became clear to me whilst working on a not dissimilar piece for a sex museum that many women have anxiety about their genital appearance. It appalled me that our society has created yet one more way to make women feel bad about themselves. I decided that I was uniquely placed to do something about it.
The sculpture comments on the trend for surgery to create the 'perfect' vagina. This modern day equivalent of female genital mutilation is a bizarre practice which suggests that one is better than another. Taste in nothing is universal and any desire for 'homogyny' could be very misguided. 400 casts arranged in this manner is in no way pornographic, as it might have been if photographs had been used. One is able to stare without shame but in wonder and amazement at this exposé of human variety. For the first time for many women they will be able to see their own genitals in relation to other women's. In doing so they may dispel many misconceptions they may have been carrying about what women look like 'down there'. The sculpture is serene and intricate and it works on many levels.

 

 

 

New study: What is a good looking penis?

penis chandelier

This study, recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, has been reported on widely, despite it being small and not originally intended as a examination of penis traits generally considered most attractive. The researchers were interested in the impact of surgery for hypospadias, a congenital condition characterized by a urethral opening in the wrong location (i.e., not at the tip of the glans), on perceived penis attractiveness. Because they had subjects rate control penises (i.e., those unaffected by hypospadias), they also had data demonstrating aspects considered most attractive for penises in general.

From Refinery29:

For a new study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the researchers asked 105 women in three different age groups — 16 to 20, 25 to 30, and 40 to 45 years old — to rank the importance of "eight penile aspects," including girth and length but also such traits as scrotum appearance. According to the women, the most important aspect was "general cosmetic appearance," followed by pubic hair appearance, penile skin, penile girth, glans shape, penile length, scrotum appearance, and position and shape of the urethra in last place. One takeaway, then, is that penis owners feeling insecure about creatively positioned urethras can relax. 
In addition to ranking penis traits, study participants also compared 10 photos of circumcised penises with 10 photos of penises that had been surgically treated for hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra is located on the underside of the penis; the participants then rated how "normal" they found the treated penises to look (they weren't informed beforehand which penises were which). Apparently, this study was inspired by the shame that some people with hypospadias feel, even after receiving surgery. The women in the study found the majority of the penises with hypospadias to look as "normal" as the circumcised-only penises; the change in their reactions to "different"-looking penises was deemed too small to be relevant.

Read the rest here.

Male strippers strip for boost in self-esteem.

A new study published in the academic journal Deviant Behavior, and reviewed in PsyPost:

male strippers

“Initially women who dance for men may experience a boost in self-esteem, but after time they suffer from a diminished self-concept,” said Scull. “My research finds that men who dance for women generally experience positive feelings of self-worth. So much so, that men will continue to strip even when it is no longer financially lucrative.”

Scull suggests these gendered differences are due to the fact that men and women ascribe different meanings to the objectification they experience while stripping. Female dancers may be more inclined to define sexual objectification as negative, because as women, they experience it more frequently than men.

Males, on the other hand, enjoy being objectified by audience members, Scull found. They did not define objectification with disempowerment and instead noted that they felt positive about being desirable.

Read the rest here.

Founder of OKCupid explains patterns in dating.

okcupidlogo.png

I've posted previously about the data arm of OKCupid (the online dating site) and the many interesting findings they've published on their blog, OKTrends. In this video, the founder of OKCupid summarizes those findings. He discusses the impact of gender, race, sexual orientation, message length, and message quality on the interactions and success of site members. Additionally, he addresses the effects of physical attributes and personality factors on attraction. Check it out, via Big Think:

France contemplating BMI limits for models.

From the CBC:

France likely to ban super-skinny models Proposal would also ban pro-anorexia websites and forums encouraging eating disorders

The link between high fashion, body image and eating disorders on French catwalks may lead to a ban on super-skinny models.

France's government is likely to back a bill being discussed in Paris banning excessively thin fashion models as well as potentially fining the modelling agency or fashion house that hires them and sending their agents to jail, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said on Monday.

Style-conscious France, with its fashion and luxury industries worth tens of billions of dollars, would join Italy, Spain and Israel, which all adopted laws against too-thin models on catwalks or in advertising campaigns in early 2013.

The union representing fashion agencies opposes the ban, arguing that regulating a model's waist line will take a toll on the agencies' bottom line.

Under the proposed legislation, any model who wants to work has to have a body mass index (a type of height to weight ratio) of at least 18 and would be subject to regular weight checks. Health Minister Marisol Touraine says the ban would protect young women who see models as the ideal female form. Plus, many models in France are still in their teens.

So, a woman who is 5-foot-7 would have to weigh at least 121 pounds. The normal weight BMI range is around 18.5 to 25.

Fines, jail time

The law would enforce fines of up to $79,000 US for any breaches, with up to six months in jail for any staff involved, French Socialist Party legislator Olivier Veran, who wrote the amendments, told newspaper Le Parisien.

The bill’s amendments also propose penalties for anything made public that could be seen as encouraging extreme thinness, notably pro-anorexia websites that glorify unhealthy lifestylesand forums that encourage eating disorders.

In 2007, Isabelle Caro, an anorexic 28-year-old former French fashion model, died after posing for a photographic campaign to raise awareness about the illness.

Some 30,000-40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia, most of them teenagers, said Veran, who is a doctor.

In 2013, designer Hedi Slimane was chastised for casting shockingly thin male models at an Yves Saint Laurent show in paris. It was not immediately clear whether France's proposed legislation would apply to male models as well.

OK Trends: Impact of race on messages received.

I've posted tidbits from OKTrends previously; it's the research blog for the dating website OKCupid, and it's both nerdy and amazing. It's also very helpful if you do online dating, as it provides excellent feedback on what works and doesn't work. I was alerted (thanks!) to an old but interesting post on the relationship between race and messages received. It's kind of depressing but worth reading none the less. I've also linked the 2014 update at the bottom - nothing much has changed.

From OkTrends (this is a very cursory selection from the article; if you have the time, the full article is awesome with tons of great data visualizations):

How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get by Christian Rudder

Welcome back, dorks. We’ve processed the messaging habits of over a million people and are about to basically prove that, despite what you might’ve heard from the Obama campaign and organic cereal commercials, racism is alive and well. It would be awesome if other big websites would go out on a limb and release their own race data, too. I can’t imagine they will: multi-million dollar enterprises rarely like to admit that the people generating those millions act like turds. But being poor gives us a certain freedom. To alienate all our users. So there.

When I first started looking at first-contact attempts and who was writing who back, it was immediately obvious that the sender’s race was a huge factor. Here are just a handful of the numbers that illustrate that:

[…]

Black women write back the most. Whether it’s due to talkativeness, loneliness, or a sense of plain decency, black women are by far the most likely to respond to a first contact attempt. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and, overall, black women reply about a quarter more often that other women.
White men get more responses. Whatever it is, white males just get more replies from almost every group. We were careful to preselect our data pool so that physical attractiveness (as measured by our site picture-rating utility) was roughly even across all the race/gender slices. For guys, we did likewise with height.
White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. These three types of women only respond well to white men. More significantly, these groups’ reply rates to non-whites is terrible. Asian women write back non-white males at 21.9%, Hispanic women at 22.9%, and white women at 23.0%. It’s here where things get interesting, for white women in particular. If you look at the match-by-race table before this one, the “should-look-like” one, you see that white women have an above-average compatibility with almost every group. Yet they only reply well to guys who look like them. There’s more data on this towards the end of the post.
[…]
Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder.
White guys respond less overall. The average reply rate of non-white males is 48.1%, while white guys’ is only 40.5%. Basically, they write back about 20% less often. It’s ironic that white guys are worst responders, because as we saw above they in turn get the most replies. That has apparently made them very self-absorbed.

 

Read the rest here.

And the 2014 update here.

Research: Physical attractiveness and desirability.

From the New York Times:

So You’re Not Desirable ... By Paul W. Eastwick and Lucy L. Hunt

It is one of the hard truths of romance: Desirable people attract other desirable people, while the rest of us — lacking in attractiveness, charisma or success — settle for the best partner who is willing to consider our overtures. In the scientific literature, this idea is enshrined in the concept of mate value, which determines who gets to mate with whom. In popular culture, it is reflected in the choice of comely contestants to vie for the equally comely spouse-to-be on TV shows like “The Bachelor.” Pairing off, it seems, is just one more example that life isn’t fair.

But is this cynicism justified? In a paper that we published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we offer evidence for the seemingly naïve notion that in most romantic contexts your unique appeal is more important than your mate value.

Mate value is predicated on people’s ability to reach some degree of consensus about one another’s desirable qualities. (Rarely do people achieve perfect consensus on anything, but they reach some degree of consensus, for example, that ice cream is tastier than cottage cheese.) If women agree that David has high amounts of attractiveness (or charisma or success), that Neil has moderate amounts and that Barry has low amounts, then David, Neil and Barry have high, medium and low mate value, respectively.

Psychological research on first impressions has shown that men and women do in fact reach some degree of consensus about each other in precisely this way. During an initial encounter, some people generally inspire swooning, others polite indifference and others avoidance. Desirable qualities like attractiveness, charisma and success — the features that differentiate the haves from the have-nots — are readily apparent.

Yet alongside this consensus is an equally important concept: uniqueness. Uniqueness can also be measured. It is the degree to which someone rates a specific person as lower or higher than the person’s consensus value. For example, even if Neil is a 6 on average, certain women may vary in their impressions of him. Amanda fails to be charmed by his obscure literary references and thinks he is a 3. Yet Eileen thinks he is a 9; she finds his allusions captivating.

In initial encounters, consensus and uniqueness are in tension. Which ultimately prevails?

Read the rest here.

Birds-of-Paradise.

Humans aren't alone in their desire to be physically attractive, in hopes of securing mates. For many other species, physical attractiveness is a key part of the mating ritual. A great example are the Birds-of-Paradise. From a documentary by the BBC Natural History Unit: