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The Psychology Of Attraction: Why We Like Who We Like

2608 words - 10 pages

"Attraction: 1.n. the power or act of attracting; 2.a desirable or pleasant quality or thing" (Merriam-Webster, 2015).
Taken directly from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, this definition states in clear, scientific terms what attraction is. However, as every human knows, the power of attraction goes far beyond this cut and dried statement, reaching deep into our psyche, as well into our past. In this paper, the processes of attraction, its evolutionary roots and modern day implications are studied, in an attempt to answer the question "what causes us to be attracted to someone"?

Discussion
In the search for an answer, one must begin at the beginning- that is, at the beginning of the human race. At this time, life was merely the pursuit of survival and reproduction. Humans, like all other animals, struggled in competition for mates with the best genetic quality to pass on to their offspring. Females selected males that were healthy and strong, who could defend them and their young and who could provide food and shelter. Males sought out as many young, fertile women with whom to mate and pass on their genes as possible. Prehistoric man had no way of knowing whether or not a potential mate was in good health, so he learned to rely on cues embedded deep in recesses of his brain. Such preferences developed universally because these attributes provided signals as to the quality of genes, health or fertility of a mate. Over time, the people who had such preferences (and acted on them by mating with people possessing these attributes) left more surviving children.
Three theories as to why these characteristics evolved as important signals exist.
The first theory, the Runaway Selection model, credited to British geneticist Sir Roland Fisher, resembles the theorizing of Darwin (Diamond, 2012). In it, Fisher observes that all female animals (including humans) do best to mate with males bearing good genes to pass on to their offspring; however, females have no direct way to asses the quality of a male's genes. He hypothesized that if a female somehow became genetically programmed to be sexually attracted to males with a certain structure, one that would give those males some advantage at surviving, they would thereby gain an additional advantage because they would now transmit their genes to more offspring, who would in turn survive better and also be chosen by a female with such a preference, and so on and so on.
In the second theory, proposed by Israeli zoologist Amotz Zahavi, the fact many structures functioning as body sexual signals are "so big or conspicuous that they constitute a health hazard to their owner, and also cost a lot of biosynthetic energy to grow. As a result, any creature surviving such a handicap is, in effect, boasting that they must have terrific genes in other respects" (Diamond, 2012).
The final theory, "Advertising", is similar to Zahavi's theory, and was proposed by American zoologists Astrid...

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