Is there something encoded within us that makes us attracted to, e.g., someone

  • taller or shorter
  • with blonde or brunette hair
  • with green or blue eyes?

Or, is this phenomenon completely based on our social/cultural environment?

  • $\begingroup$ There is no way currently to tell us the exact meaning of the genetic code; Ask this question in 30 years and you may have the answer. AFAIK it is based off the environment as even different environments cause epigenetic changes in the expression of genes, $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2012 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


Yes, there is a biological basis. Your examples seem a little social/cultural to me, though. In any case, here are some examples I came across. One study that showed that women's hormones rose in response to smelling male sweat. There's also a large psychological component that, for example, shows people find symmetry important in beauty.

A review discusses various aspects of facial beauty, and mentions that several studies have shown certain physical attractiveness standards are common across ethnic groups. It also mentions another study that shows how women are more attracted to a "masculine" face during the high-risk phase of their menstrual cycle.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, there are cultural biases as to what traits are attractive at the moment or given your own genetic make up when the specific traits mentioned in the question are considered. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Jul 31, 2012 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @shigeta I agree, and I didn't mean it to sound like attraction was completely biological, just that there is some biological part of it. The examples I chose (or at least the first and last ones) were intended to highlight interesting and bizarre findings that caught my attention. I wrote it at work, so I probably didn't do a good job of writing it up... $\endgroup$
    – jello
    Aug 1, 2012 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ i like your answer - just wanted to add a footnote... sometimes when I am abroad I'm struck by how movie stars we might view as 'on the chunky side' are the biggest hits there.... $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Aug 1, 2012 at 15:58

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