Where Do Our Sexual Attractions Come From?

Where Do Our Sexual Attractions Come From?

Why are we sexually attracted to some people, but not others? Where do our attractions come from in the first place? 

As a social psychologist who has studied issues of attraction extensively, I’ve learned that attraction is a verycomplex process. As I discuss in my book The Psychology of Human Sexuality, attraction is influenced by a wide range of biological, psychological, and social/environmental/cultural factors. For example:

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How Your Political Views Shape Who You're Attracted To

How Your Political Views Shape Who You're Attracted To

Generally speaking, people tend to select romantic partners who hold similar political views. For example, consider a recent study in which researchers looked at party registration patterns of heterosexual married couples in 30 U.S. states. What they found was that male and female partners were registered with the same party in 70 percent of households; just 30 percent involved a mismatch of some sort. Of those mismatches, only about one-third involved a Democrat partnered with a Republican—the rest involved people with partisan affiliations partnering with independents.

The fact that only about 1 in 10 current married couples features a Democrat-Republican pair suggests that people with extreme political differences either don’t get together very often or, when they do, their relationships don’t last very long . So why is that? Social psychology can help us to understand why people tend to start relationships with those who are politically like-minded.

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Being Similar To Your Partner Doesn't Guarantee Greater Happiness

Being Similar To Your Partner Doesn't Guarantee Greater Happiness

Finding a compatible partner is one of the cornerstones of a happy and healthy relationship. But how do you determine who you’re compatible with? Intuitively, you might think the answer would be to take the approach that a lot of online dating companies do, which is try and partner-up with someone similar to you. If you’re more similar, you’ll probably have fewer disagreements, right? 

Not necessarily.  

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5 Important Things Science Has Taught Us About Sexual Attraction

5 Important Things Science Has Taught Us About Sexual Attraction

What is it that attracts us to other people? Can you fall in love at first sight? Can computer algorithms successfully predict who will make a good match? Read on for the answers to these and several other fascinating questions about sexual attraction, according to science. 

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4 Fascinating Things Scientists Have Learned About Love

4 Fascinating Things Scientists Have Learned About Love

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a lot of folks have love on the brain—so, let’s talk today about the science of love. Here are four of the most fascinating things researchers have found by studying love relationships. 

1.) We lie to ourselves about the ones we love. People have a tendency to idealize their romantic partners—to think of them as being better than they really are in some way, like thinking that your partner is the absolute best romantic partner anyone could ever have. Scientists refer to these beliefs as “positive illusions” and, believe it or not, these inaccurate beliefs are actually beneficial for our relationships in many ways.

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Why Romantic Partners Tend To Look Like Each Other

Why Romantic Partners Tend To Look Like Each Other

If you're anything like me, you've probably noticed that a lot of romantic couples look alike. Have you ever wondered why that is? Scientists have found that there may be at least two reasons for this: not only do we have a tendency to choose partners who look like us in the first place, but it also turns out that the longer we're with a partner, the more we come to look like them.

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A Scientist’s Response To “We Needed Research To Tell Us This?”

A Scientist’s Response To “We Needed Research To Tell Us This?”

As someone who spends a fair amount of time engaging the public with the latest scientific research on sexuality and relationships, it is not uncommon for me to receive comments or tweets that say something to the extent of: “We needed research to tell us this?” The implication is that there really wasn’t a need for a given study to be conducted because we could have used “common sense” instead to figure out the results.

I’ve received enough of the “that’s just common sense” rebuttals that I thought it made sense to write an article tackling them head-on with the goal of explaining why I think it’s problematic to dismiss research in this way. So, here goes.

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Are We Sexually Attracted To People Who Remind Us Of Our Parents?

Research across various animal species suggests that early caregiving experiences shape patterns of sexual attraction later in life. For instance, if you ever took an Introductory Psychology course, you probably learned how Konrad Lorenz discovered that baby geese would “imprint” on the first moving object they saw shortly after birth, meaning they treated that object as if it were their mother.1 As evidence of this, perhaps your professor showed you some adorable photos of Lorenz being trailed by a gaggle of geese who had imprinted on him. Even more fascinating, however, is that as adults, these geese would attempt to mate with human men that physically resembled Lorenz (i.e., White dudes with big white beards)! So do similar effects occur among humans? Are we sexually attracted to people who physically resemble our early caretakers? According to a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, the answer appears to be yes.
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Why Do Romantic Partners Tend To Look Alike?

Contrary to the old saying “opposite attract,” you have probably noticed that romantic couples have a tendency to look more alike than they do different. But why is this the case? Is it because people have a tendency to select partners who look like them, or is it because couple members actually grow physically similar to one another over time? Surprisingly, psychologists have found support for both of these explanations.
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Has Online Dating Made Our Relationships Better?

Has Online Dating Made Our Relationships Better?
A group of psychologists recently published a paper in which they critically examined the science behind online dating in order to answer two questions: How is online dating different from traditional (i.e., offline) dating? And are couples who meet online better off in the long run [1]? Their analysis suggests that online dating is definitely a unique way of starting relationships and has some distinct advantages over other ways of meeting people; however, it is also subject to some major limitations that ultimately prevent it from creating perfect relationships for everyone. In this article, I review some of the major points raised by the authors of this fascinating paper.
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