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Sexual Attraction Research Papers

Sexual attraction refers to desirability as it relates to a sexual connection; individuals are sexually attracted to those they would perceive as a mate in some way. This attraction can be rooted in a variety of factors, including those both tangible and intangible. Sexual attraction often refers to physical attraction, or being aroused by a person’s physical traits. These can include appearance, smell, or voice. Sexual attractionHowever, sexual attraction can also be rooted in a variety of intangible elements, including the following:

  • One can be sexually attracted to someone's personality
  • Social standing can be sexually attractive
  • The overall character of an individual can be sexually attractive

For some, sexual attraction is focused on finding a mate; for others, it is simply focused on the physical stimulation that accompanies such a relationship.

Sexual attraction has been found to vary dramatically between men and women. Research has shown that men are more likely to experience sexual attraction outside the confines of a committed relationship; they are more likely to engage in sexual activities without a prior relationship commitment. Sexual attraction can arouse jealousy in either partner, with men experiencing greater physical jealousy at the prospect of their partner being sexually attracted to another person and women experiencing greater emotional jealousy. Finally, men generally experience greater rates of sexual attraction when provided with visual stimuli, while women experience sexual attraction as a result of a variety of other factors.

The thing that remains unclear is whether attraction is stimulated by chemicals or by sight. Many research studies have explored the visual aspects of attraction resulting in a proliferation of literature describing body language. The existence of certain visual clues is widely accepted and the topic is often taught in courses that deal with sales and communication, psychology and counseling, and even law enforcement. The ability to interpret non-verbal clues is a much-desired characteristic.

Men are often clumsy at expressing their interest in someone of the opposite sex and slower to recognize non-verbal clues than women. Gestures such as smoothing the hair, adjusting collar and shirtsleeves, straightening the tie, or sweeping the shoulders are typical male preening gestures. Some believe that men show an interest in women by handling circular objects such as squeezing a can or a glass then letting go. An obvious glance at a woman’s body while she watches is seen as a courting gesture. Light stroking of the thighs is interpreted by some as a sign of sexual interest. Men in a courting or flirting situation usually have stomachs tucked in and chests outthrust. Sly winks and accidental touches are more conscious, aggressive signs of interest.

Women are typically more subtle in signaling interest in the opposite sex. They toss their hair over a shoulder or away from the face, or hold a glance just long enough for the man to notice. Women also use a sideways glance to express interest, looking at the man through partially closed eyelids then dropping the gaze a moment after it is noticed. Licking the lips, pouting, or applying cosmetics while pretending to be unaware that a man is watching are more overt signals. One subtle, often unnoticed gesture is revealing the soft, smooth skin of the inside wrist or revealing open palms as an unconscious invitation for a caress. Playing with cylindrical objects such as pencils, pens or the stem of a wineglass may be a reflection of subconscious desire. Many clues are found in body positioning – leaning forward to show interest, leaning back in a reclining position to reveal openness and feeling comfortable – sending signals to the man about the level of her response to him.     

As with other species, the human male is usually the one to initiate the courtship ritual, although the female must apply more criteria to the selection of a mate than the male does. The criteria for her to desire a man can include strength or health or fighting ability, like the lion or the wolf. However, they can also include intelligence, money, power, prestige, position, status, attitudes, political or religious convictions, any number and combination of factors. She must believe that a man will offer the best possible genes for her offspring, and the offspring’s best chance for survival and ability to pass on its genes. While a woman gives mate selection more thought than a man in most cases, it does not mean she has no instinctive urges. Rather, it means she often subordinates those desires until additional criteria have been satisfied

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