Sunday, 8 March 2009

Horizon Part Three

Hello again; let's on with the next part of the show. How do we still manage to attract each other, despite wearing clothes? What signals do we look for to make fundamental social judgements about one another? A computer was used to display simple, monochrome human shapes, and people were asked to rate them in attractiveness. From tracking eye movements, it was possible to tell the usual path followed; on naked forms the genitals and breast areas were the first areas to be automatically noted, but once clothed, different signals were needed to ascertain sex - the first criteria for attraction.

Firstly, women have an hourglass shape, nipped in at the waist, while men appear more tubular. Next, the hips of a woman tend to sway from side to side, with a slight rolling motion, whereas in men, it's the shoulders that roll, in a kind of swagger. In this way, from just a silhouette shape, the body in motion gives us our first clues of its sexuality.

Our volunteers were fitted with glasses to track and record their eye movements, as they viewed each other, clothed and naked. Apart from one man, who consciously made himself look only at the faces, the rest of the group automatically viewed the hip, waist and shoulder areas of each subject, whatever the state of dress or undress. But how do humans judge the best time to mate? Many primates use distinct displays that signal a female is ready to mate, but beneath our clothes, such signals would be useless. Fertility has to have another method of exhibiting when it is at its highest level.

In an experiment, a group of women were photographed at different times of their cycles, making sure that one picture corresponded to just before ovulation, when they were at their most fertile.
When men were asked to choose the photos in which the women appeared most attractive, 60% of them chose the ones matching the fertile time. The scientists asked themselves, were there secret signals of ovulation , that partners or strangers picked up on?

A recent study was carried out into the amount of tips lap dancers earned. It was discovered, on their high fertility days, men tipped them more generously. No one has yet been able to prove what these unconscious signals are, but it has been established, that women's body odour changes at times of high fertility. Perhaps humans have more of a sixth sense than they realise.

Bacteria that feed on hormones in the sweat around pubic hair, produce distinctive aromas. Perhaps underarm and pubic hair serve the purpose of sending these odours out to the environment, to act as secret attractions beneath our clothes.

After a day and a half spent naked, the four of our original group got dressed again, while the remaining four wondered what would come next, when it was their turn to be put in the spotlight, as you might say. And I've decided to leave that until tomorrow. No sense in information overload all at once!


  1. Help! Scientists have stolen our beloved Jinksy!

    Very interesting stuff, la jinks - My late mother in law said there had once been a study showing job interview situations, where men interviewing women wearing make-up said that those women were wearing shorter skirts than those wearing no makeup... In reality there was no difference whatsoever... x

  2. Hi Jinksy: This is so interesting. I've caught up on what I've missed the last three posts. I feel a little sorry for the men who are hairy and were found not to be attractive. :( But I agree. I'm wondering how old those volunteers were.

    I'll be back to catch up on the rest! Thanks....

  3. Interesting, What the eye sees and likes, I guess the last phase wiould be, the inner self of a person, from the heart.

  4. Fascinating stuff Jinksy. Can't help wishing the farmer was a bit more tubular than he is these days!

  5. Perhaps humans really do have more of a sixth sense than we realize. I look forward to the next post.

  6. Hi Jinksy, I just caught up on my reading of your blog since the last time I visited. Will you please tell me if you enjoy David's book? I have thought about ordering one for meece-self.

    I am enjoying your Horizon series and it was only recently that I learned that a temperature change of 2-4 degrees can cause death. I find the human body fascinating. Your hypothesis on the relationship between hair/odors creating secret attraction sounds plausible to me. I shall call it the Jinksy theory of odorous attraction.

  7. And you continue to bend my brain. Back for the next phase and wondering how I smell these days...

  8. It is nearly bedtime and I am wondering should I go to be in my birthday suit or my pjs? Guess I shall have to eturn tomorrow to find out.

  9. More interesting stuff, Jinksy!


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