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Science of Sex: What’s Your Type?

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Science of Sex: What’s Your Type?

One of the easiest ways to sum up a potential mate’s shortcomings is with the simple phrase, “He’s just not my type.” But why do we have types? Most people can write down a list of must-haves and must-not-haves—everything from job status and music taste to eye color and shoe preference (mandals are a surefire deal breaker). But the reasons why people have types and the things that drive their finicky tastes are less clear.

Rules of Attraction
It’s not hard for scientists to determine the traits that make people attractive: a good waist-to-hip ratio; symmetrical features; for men, a masculine jaw and a deep voice; for women, a high voice. All these characteristics relate to hormone levels and overall genetic fitness. We’re attracted to people with whom we’ll have a good chance of having healthy offspring, even if we’re only looking for a fun night or two. Scent also plays a large role in what we consider “chemistry” and relates to how our own immune system matches up with a potential suitor’s.

But rarely do we describe our type as someone who’s “symmetrical” or who has kick-butt immune defenses. Instead, we want someone who’s athletic or artsy, or someone who has oodles of ambition and the 401k to prove it.

Birds of a Feather?
Our perfect type may have less to do with biological attraction and more to do with our own personality, style, and interests. Studies have shown that people tend to fall in love with those from their same socioeconomic background, similar levels of intelligence, and consistent values and principles. There’s even a term—homophily, or “love of the same”—that describes the tendency for similar people to attract each other.

In both romantic and platonic relationships, homophily happens. Researchers at MIT’s Media Laboratory looked at homophily in online dating and found that users sought people that were like them most of the time, just as it happens in the offline world. Users were most likely to seek similarities in preferences for marital history and desire for children, but also things like physical build, attractiveness, and smoking habits.

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136 comments

+ add your own
2:58AM PDT on Jul 29, 2014

OK~

10:55AM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

coconut

7:14PM PDT on Jun 30, 2014

Interesting. Thks.

2:49AM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

This article must be only for fun.

Might as well enjoy the day single or married -- what does it matter?
Why on earth are some people always capable of finding out what type they are -- and other people cannot fit into the type?
What are the people doing that know their type?
What are the people -- equally of value and worth -- doing that do not fit in 'a type'?

9:41PM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

Thanks to Helen Fischer I finally I know I'm an explorer, a builder, a director and a negotiator. Depends on my daily mood and the weather, of course.

4:43AM PDT on May 29, 2014

Ramhit, are you a fan of Borat?

2:00PM PDT on May 26, 2014

So much for Fischer's attempt to try to categorize people into personality types. It's just a gimmick, and doesn't do justice to the complexity of individuals.

4:30PM PDT on May 23, 2014

Is Care2 on a campaign with all these recommendations for sexy articles from the past?

And do that many people really need all these instructions???

5:09AM PDT on May 10, 2014

Thanks.

9:05AM PDT on May 8, 2014

sexy time is as good as sex

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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