This week on The Living Experiment, the final episode of our fourth season, we’re talking about Attractiveness. What makes us attractive? What do we find attractive in others, and why?
From health and beauty to intelligence, kindness, confidence and self-esteem, we explore the whole-person factors that come into play as we size each other up — and evaluate our own mojo.
We also consider some of the psycho-emotional and scientific underpinnings of those factors.
Finally, we suggest some experiments to help you expand your awareness of what attractiveness means to you.
“Attractiveness” Episode Highlights
- First, a listener question: We address the biochemical and psychological reasons for obsessive food thoughts
- Then, attractiveness: The characteristics we find attractive, how we make ourselves more appealing to others and ourselves, and our cultural fixation with physical appearance
- Dallas shares his Instagram post on the evolutionary biology of attractiveness
- Pilar’s history with the cultural pressures of physical appearance, and how finding yourself right as you are tends to make you more attractive to others
- How unresolved childhood experiences and dynamics may play into what we find appealing in ourselves and others
- Some science behind the relationship between the outward signs of good (or bad) health and what people see as attractive
1) Notice who you’re attracted to (not just sexually, but socially and interpersonally) without judging on the basis of a certain set of physical characteristics. Instead, focus your attention on the small things – sparkly eyes, a pretty smile, a graceful walk, good energy – and note if these observations expand your sense of your own attractiveness.
2) Pick a physical feature in yourself that you feel self-conscious about or judge as unattractive. For a brief period, go out in public and act as though it’s the thing you’re most proud of, noting your experience and the response you receive from others.
Without any self judgement or moral overlay, notice what’s attractive about your friends and family. Make a list of a few things that attract you to each of them, note any patterns that arise, and ask how these patterns reflect your own values and inspirations.
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- From the listener question on food obsession: We recommend the book Always Hungry? by Dr. David Ludwig on the biochemical reasons for food obsession.
- For more on the psychology of cravings and food obsession, particularly in women, we suggest the books Women, Food, and Desire by Alexandra Jamieson, Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, and Appetites by Carolyn Knapp.
- Our “Healthy vs. Hot” episode, which further explores the sometimes inverse relationship behind health and physical attractiveness.
- Dallas’s thoughts on attractiveness in his March 7 Instagram post.
- Pilar’s article “Health: The New Sex Symbol” from Experience Life magazine.
- Terri Cole’s website and her Love Blueprint that Pilar spoke of.
- From Psychology Today, a 1990s article from Helen Fisher, PhD, that explains some timeless essentials about the biology of attraction.
- Helen Fisher’s website and more information about her book, Anatomy of Love.
- “Fruit over sunbed” via The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology – the study Dallas referenced on the influence of skin color on perceived facial attractiveness.
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