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  • Dr. Joe Malone

The Visual Laws of Attraction

Men are much more visually aroused by sexual stimuli than women since their brain anatomy is significantly different from women’s.

There is a part of the brain called the medial preoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus that is over two times as large in males as it is in females. As its name hints, it is located in the middle of the limbic system, situated at the point where the optic chiasm transmits visual pattern impulses from the eyes. It is here that what we see enters the brain and is inserted into the hypothalamus, and the hypothalamus is one of the most important areas of the brain when it comes to motivation. The medial preoptic nuclei are also sensitized by testosterone, which the male brain contains much more of than the female’s.

Women’s brains have an analogous structure, but the medial preoptic nuclei is much smaller. Instead,a female’s an alogous structure is the ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei, which is located behind the medial preoptic nuclei, further away from the optic chiasm, and therefore less influenced by vision. This area processes feelings of love, lust, and appetite for food in females. It’s not that visual sexual attraction isn’t a factor for women, but it is simply stronger for men. Proof of this can be found in places such as the pornography industry, where the majority of material is created for male viewers (Studies have shown that the smaller percentage of women that do like porn actually prefer the same type of subject matter as the guys. Porn with male actors and models is viewed primarily by gay men).

Men’s visual preferences have been finely tuned over thousands of generations. This is true especially when it comes to women’s waist-hip ratio. Social scientists over the years thought that each culture had its own pattern of what was considered attractive, and that those body-shape fashions come and go. They thought that society dictated what was considered attractive to their young people. Then a researcher named Dr. David Singh in the early 1990s wondered if there might be a deeper connection between a woman’s body shape and her health, and that if such a connection existed, if it might make certain female shapes attractive universally across cultural lines.That would mean that attractiveness was not a matter of fashion but was hard wired into men’s brains.

Another researcher, David Buss, was doing related research at about the same time, looking at human’s sexual preferences in thirty-seven different cultures worldwide. He found that women were most attracted to men with high social standing and plentiful resources. Men,on the other hand, in all thirty-seven cultures, put more emphasis on youth and physical attractiveness. Surprisingly, media exposure, or lack thereof, did not seem to have any effect.

36-24-36 — It’s Science

Again, it turns out that a woman’s waist-hip ratio is not only a good indicator of her health but is also a strong anatomical indicator of her potential fertility. The hormone that helps produce a small waist in relationship to the hips is estrogen. And estrogen is also a crucial hormone for a woman to become pregnant and determines where fat is deposited in her body. Therefore, lower waist-hip ratios signify health and fertility.

By the time a young woman is an older teenager, she typically has a .72 waist-hip ratio. In other words, her waist is 72 percent of her hips. Women in porn magazines like Playboy were found to have a waist-hip ratio of .67, or their waists are 67 percent of their hips,which is much smaller. Dr. Singh then did a different experiment where men were shown drawings of women of varying sizes and waist-hip ratios. No matter what the overall size of the women, men preferred the lowest waist-hip ratios. The size (as in total bodily volume) didn’t seem to matter as much as the waist-hip ratio did (up to a point). That confirms that it is not so much weight that determines women’s attractiveness to men, but shape.

Interestingly, Dr. David Bainbridge of Cambridge University showed that women have even higher expectations of their figures than men do. One study showed that men prefer women with a body mass index of 18.8, a .73 waist-hip ratio, and a .69 waist-bust ratio of. Women, on the other hand, were slightly less demanding of themselves in the overall size department with a preferred body mass index of 18.9, but tougher on themselves with a preferred .70 hip-waist ratio and a preferred .67 waist-bust ratio. It seems that when it comes to their own body expectations, women can be very demanding.

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