Guys, if you really want to impress a girl, take her to a concert. According to a new study, women tend to rate male faces as more attractive after they've been primed with music.
As far as we know, music of some kind can be found in all cultures – even when there isn't a name for it. But we're not really sure why this is. Charles Darwin chalks it up to the theory of evolution. Being able to make music shows you have good motor and cognitive skills and, therefore, makes you a more attractive reproductive partner – it's the human equivalent of bird song. It’s a nice theory, but as researchers have pointed out, there isn’t enough empirical evidence to really prove it.
Before Spotify, iTunes, and even record players were invented, music had to be performed live. Usually, it was played in a social context. So Manuela Marin, from the Institute for Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods (University of Vienna), and co-workers wanted to find out if it affects our dating preferences. They did this by looking at how it influences our perceptions of facial attractiveness.
"There is some evidence in the psychological literature that so-called arousal transfer effects can occur if two stimuli are processed consecutively," says Marin. "The processing of the first stimulus produces internal arousal, i.e. increased physiological activity, which is then attributed to the second stimulus. This mostly unconscious mechanism can then influence our actions, in this case, the choice of a partner."
"Facial attractiveness is one of the most important physical characteristics that can influence the choice of a partner. We wanted to find out how music can alter the perception of this feature," Helmut Leder, from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Vienna, adds.
For the study, published in PLOS One, the researchers recruited 96 heterosexual men and women, each with less than three years of musical training. Female participants were divided into two groups based on where they were in their menstrual cycle and, therefore, how fertile they were during the experiment.