Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Physical Attribute of Your Date Effects You the Most?

Q: What physical feature about someone we're dating effects us the most? (It's not what you think it is.)

From today's email bag:

Dear Dating Coach:

We were having a great time, and then I remember he reached over for the dessert we were sharing, and there was something about his hands. Not dirty, and no bitten nails, etc., I just knew I 'registered' something. I thought they were pretty and delicate, but at the same time, I don't like "pretty" or "delicate" hands on a man. What am I to make of this?

This is interesting because I am reading Diamond's THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE where he spends a good bit of time talking about how we choose our mates.

Note that choosing a marital partner is much more of a choice than choosing a one--night-stand. In fact the chapter this is in is called How We Pick our Mates and Sex Partners. It is very important to know what you are doing -- Are you choosing a mate, or a sex partner is the first thing I ask clients!!!

First let me say that you, personally, in your choice of partner, are allowed to prefer what you prefer. In other words, there's a woman out there that would fall instantly in love with this man BECAUSE OF those same hands that turn you off.

That's the wonder of love!

That having been said, in his book, Diamond cites scientific research where he uses words such as coefficients and significant. To unpack these terms, coefficients means the different things that influence something, and "significant" is a scientific terms meaning that the numbers show a difference. Yes, it arbitrary, but not as arbitrary as saying, "I (your personal opinion) think people choose mates according to the color of their eyes." "Correlation" means they relate, but be cautious about cause and effect. i.e., People eat more ice cream on hot days. The heat is more likely to cause the eating of ice cream than the ice cream to cause the day to be hot ... but with more complicated issue, people don't always see the line of causation properly! (I know you've experienced this misconception.)


Coefficients for physical traits are on the average ... not so high as for personality traits ... or religion ... but still significantly higher than zero. For a few physical traits the correlation is even higher than 0.2 [which is the average overall for physical traits] -- e.g., an astonishing 0.61 for length of middle finger. At least unconsciously, people care more about their spouse's middle-finger length than about his or her hair color and intelligence!
I can't say I was conscious about this, but I sure am now. (Which is what Emotional Intelligence is about -- self-awareness.)

Something DEFINITELY REGISTERED when she stopped and took a look at his hands. And it was something negative.

A: the length of their middle finger

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