The Secret of the Sexes

Yesterday’s BBC programme on attraction (part of the Secret of the Sexes Series) was very thought provoking.

Through metrics followed by a series of experiments, scientists were trying to extrapolate the universal rules of attraction. They started working from the hypothesis that people with facial similarity would be attracted to each other. They measured a group’s facial metrics and established matches. They then, through a speed dating experiment, they measured (with the aid of a 1-to-100 digital dial at the side of the table) first impressions and the any changes in measurement after the 3-minutes conversations. Three ‘seducers’ were introduced as a control group.

Needless to say, the hypothesis was proven wrong as no couples ‘hit it off’. However, they established that first impressions are decisive and the 3-minute conversations made no substantial change in the attraction measurement.

Though computer programmes that created ‘perfect’ matches, they then had a look at other aspects of attraction like compatibility and body (men are attracted to a particular waist-hip ratio, whereas women give importance to height). But the most interesting experiment was, in my opinion, giving faces a feminine/masculine value to test if one is attracted to the other.

No study was conclusive. Studying attraction solely through metrics can be extremely problematic as they can’t encompass idiosyncrasies, cultures etc… But that didn’t matter so much as the experiments made me think about my own:

– What would happen if I gave objects a masculinity / femininity score?
– Will I have to go into these gender issues?
– What kind of metrics (if any) will my study require?
– Can I create a speed-dating-with-objects methodology followed by (or instead of) focus groups?