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Archive for Social Sciences

The BIG Turn-On: The Complex Science Behind Sexual Attraction via [psychologytoday]


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Fast Forces of Attraction

Attraction is a symphony in which many different instruments—wit, voice, charisma, class, and body language—play a part.

By PT Staff

When you’re attracted to someone, your whole body switches on. It’s like hearing the first bars of your favorite song. And though it might feel like magic, it isn’t random. It’s just too complex for us to discern the harmony. Attraction is so subtle that we would trip over our own feet if we were aware of every move. That’s why our brains have set us up to draw instantaneous inferences from tiny nuances of behavior, what psychologists call “thin slices” of judgment. We form first impressions of another’s attractiveness in a tenth of a second, generating a symphonic burst of desire in which everything from voice to wit plays a part.

—Jay Dixit

Smooth Talk

What we listen for in a voice.

The sound of a sexy voice can echo for generations (“Happy Birthday, Mr. President… “). And the dissonance of an ear-blistering cackle can turn away even the most interested suitors (call it the Fran Drescher effect). But between these extremes, how much do we weigh the voice of a potential partner—and what do we listen for when they first open their mouths?

Accents affect our perceptions, as do speed and pitch. We judge fast talkers to be more educated, and those with varied inflection to be more interesting. Men prefer higher voices in women, and women like deeper voices in men (especially when ovulating or looking for a short-term relationship). Pitch correlates only loosely with height, but is closely tied to hormone levels—meaning it’s a good indicator of fertility or dominance, as well as health and attractiveness. “In general, people with attractive voices have attractive faces,” says David Feinberg, a psychologist at McMaster University.

If your voice eclipses your face as your star quality, keep your mouth moving. One study showed that hearing tones that matched men’s or women’s voices made androgynous headshots appear more masculine or feminine. In other words, a sonorous voice can actually enhance your looks.

—Matthew Hutson

In Good Repute

The delicate matter of advance word.

No matter how spectacular your entrance, your reputation got there before you. And it has primed everyone’s reptilian brain to render a high-speed decision on whether you are to be trusted. If the answer is affirmative, that charming chap holding court in the center of the room may be kindly disposed to flash you a smile, let down his guard, and begin the dance of attraction.

But if the amygdala sends up a caution flag—otherwise known as anxiety—you may have to work extra hard to create a positive impression. It may be, finds a team of German and Austrian researchers, that we’re all far more attuned to advance word than to the evidence before our very eyes.

People like people whom others find attractive. You might be inclined to think it’s because socializing with (or sleeping with) the It girl enhances your own status in the crowd. And maybe it does. But a recent study suggests it’s also an effective mating shortcut. Choosing a good partner takes time and energy. When one woman finds a guy attractive, others are likely to flock to him too. Scientists call it “mate-choice copying.” It makes life easier for fish and birds, and it turns out to be the way people operate, too.

—Hara Estroff Marano

Class Action

The allure of shared pedigree.

Most of us are drawn to those who hail from our own side of the tracks, and men and women are marrying within their social class much more than ever.

The outward signs of pedigree have gotten trickier to read, thanks to modern informality in dress and the ubiquity of cheap, high-quality clothing, notes Dalton Conley, a sociologist at NYU. Yet we’re deft at passing style judgments that place people precisely on the socioeconomic spectrum.

We’re attracted to people who look like a class match because we think they’ll validate our own choices and values and share our interests and opinions.

“We all love the story of Pretty Woman, but generally it doesn’t work that way,” says Conley. “How someone does their hair and nails and how they dress is difficult to separate from their innate attractiveness. It’s a package deal.”

—Carlin Flora

The Once Over

Not all flesh is created equal.

Ask five people what they find attractive, and you’ll get a lesson in human variability: girls with ears that stick out; guys with soulful eyes.

But ask 5,000 people and clear patterns emerge. Some traits have universal sex appeal because they’re markers of good genes, health, and fertility: a fit body, clear skin, a symmetrical face with average-sized and -shaped features, and traits that mark sex hormones: Angelina Jolie‘s big lips indicate high estrogen, while George Clooney‘s square jaw signals he’s got testosterone to burn. Women swoon over men with “adult” faces—marked by strong chin and nose—while men like women who look childlike, with smooth skin, small noses, and high cheekbones.

And everything you fear about height and weight is true: A woman’s desirability in a speed dating situation is determined largely by her thinness, while each extra inch of height gives men a 5 percent edge in the number of women interested in dating him.

But we tend to wind up with people of similar stature and girth—meaning short men end up with even shorter women, and people choose partners with similar builds. After all, a warm glance from a charmer who’s within size range is infinitely more alluring than a runway model’s cold shoulder.

—Carlin Flora

In the Mood for Love

State of mind matters, but not in the way you think.

We think of good moods as attractive—the cheerful extrovert with the full smile is more appealing than the moping loner in the corner. But researchers find what matters even more is your own mood.

Your mood affects your perceptions of others, especially in new encounters. Feeling sad, for example, dulls your sensitivity to others’ nonverbal cues, impairing your quick-take judgment and forcing you into a more deliberative, less accurate mode of constructing first impressions.

It does the same in a potential partner. So while you might be your most scintillating self, if the girl you’re closing in on is having a down day, she’s virtually blind to your charms. Which takes us to the heart of attraction. It holds up a flattering mirror to us. We’re attracted to someone when we like the way we look in their eyes. We’re most attracted to those who see us as we want to be seen, who allow us room to stretch—to be, or become, our best self.

—Hara Estroff Marano

The Charm Offensive

When two hearts beat as one.

Charisma is charm in neon lights, a social gift we can’t help but respond to when we see it. A person with charisma—think: Oprah—may bend the light waves in a room, oozing confidence and self-esteem, and we move closer because confidence makes others feel good. A person’s self-esteem guides our instant evaluations: “Hmm, if she likes herself, there must be something there for me to like, too.”

The deep secret of charismatic people, however, may be their ability to create synchrony, to induce you to adjust your bearing, speech rate, even heart rate—through locking eyes, through touch, or simply because you feel a strong rapport. Researchers believe our strongest perceptions of mutual attraction develop in those first encounters where two people have a measurable physiological reaction to one another. It’s not exactly chemistry—it’s more like electricity.

—Hara Estroff Marano

Walking Tall

Confident and friendly movements are key.

Mom was right: Good posture and a genuine smile are crucial elements of attraction. In fact, we register facial expression, hand gestures, and posture even more quickly than looks or style.

Those who look relaxed yet assured are attractive because they put us at ease—perhaps because we interpret others’ movements using mirror neurons in our brains that engender copycat emotions, says John Neffinger, a political consultant who specializes in nonverbal behavior.

“Internally summon up the attitude you’re trying to project,” Neffinger advises. “Think about what you felt like the last time you truly felt confident. Once you’ve recaptured that feeling, you’ll stand tall as you walk into the room.”

And since we’re all suckers for flattery, the easiest way to look good is to look interested. Channel your inner Bill Clinton by using steady eye contact, keeping your palms turned up, nodding, and pointing your feet toward your target.

—Carlin Flora

Playing Hard to Get

When to get your game on.

We’ve all had the experience. You make a connection, you leave a message, and… the other person doesn’t get back to you. You wait, and wonder. Is there something wrong with you? Did they meet someone else? Then, when they finally do call, you’re so relieved you never want to let them go.

“When you don’t seem too available, it makes you mysterious,” says Robert Greene, author of The Art of Seduction. “Anything you do that makes their imagination take flight furthers the seduction process.”

If you’re excited about someone, uncertainty about their interest in you can heighten your attraction to them, explains Paul Eastwick, a psychologist at Northwestern. You have a drive to reduce the uncertainty, which causes you to obsess—which in turn deepens your feelings.

We all want what we can’t have. Someone playing hard to get forces us to invest more, and the more effort we put in, the more we assume it must be worth it.

Playing hard to get works because it increases a person’s perceived value. “It’s simple sexual economics,” explains Peter Jonason, a researcher at New Mexico State University. “You give the impression of lower availability, increasing demand.” But hard-to-get is a dangerous game. We like people who like us back, and if you seem too unattainable, you risk causing the other person to give up. In sum: Stretching out that period of anxious anticipation can be a powerful weapon of courtship. Use with caution.

—Jay Dixit

Woo with Wisecracks

Separating the wit from the chaff.

All it takes is one good joke to break the ice. But while everyone wants a partner with a sense of humor, guys are usually the ones cracking wise. Why? Studies suggest that women think humor-generating men are hot because wit signals intelligence and creativity—but that men value humor appreciation much more because it indicates sexual receptivity.

The prospect of everlasting lopsided banter may not appeal to either sex, but men and women do digest humor differently. Women, the more selective daters, are also more discriminating about jokes. Brain imaging shows they process jokes more deeply and reap a larger reward response from good ones, while rejecting duds without hesitation.

Mirthmaking displays social prowess in addition to brains: knowing what to say, with what timing, in what company. Of course, the joke teller can also use humor for culling contestants: Tell a quirky joke and you’re looking for the person who gets it—and gets you. Humor is serious business: Research shows that humor compatibility promotes marital bliss.

—Matthew Hutson

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Floating City?! Futurist Ocean Frontiers & High-Seas Homes via [dornob]


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Fixed & Floating Cities: 5 Futuristic Artifical Island Designs

floating futuristic city design

From army forts turned into pirate radio stations and oil platforms converted into micro-nations, the notion of living full-time on the high seas is nothing new. However, these amazing award-winning designs from the recent Seasteading contest float in front of us five jaw-dropping possibilities for the future of urban life on the sea unlike any artificial islands you have ever seen (including this recycled floating paradise island).

fantastic future sea city

The winning design is a colorful and vibrant work of imaginative urbanism, depicting a world on the water not unlike life on land with winding paths, city squares, mixed uses and traditional architecture. Like a slice lifted from the heart of an old European town this Swimming City concept sits on four pillars with room to pass beneath it and the remnants of its removal showing on all sides.

futuristic floating city concept

Almost more a luxury resort hotel than a city on the sea, the winner of the best picture award certainly warrants its prize for the compelling visual cacophony of the above rendering. The image shows off tropical beach-like edges with premium condos jutting out to overlook the water and a dense core of mixed-use functions.

futuristic floating city idea

Deemed to have the most personality, this runner-up design is as much about change over time as it is about a fixed work of construction. The idea is a simple, modular mixed-use city-on-a-platform that has the freedom to evolve and expand as needed – forever a work of urban design in progress.

futuristic floating city design

In the realm of aesthetics this design was elected the winner, perhaps in part for the way it shows off its green design strategies in the look of the structure itself. Shaped to channel wind, bring in solar energy and passively cool (as well as feed) the residential population within, this enclosed city structure is eco-friendly in appearance as well as in practice.

floating city of the future

It may be no surprise that this last design won the peoples’ choice award. It recalls both the form of a modern city square as well as the oil rigs and other converted architectural remnants of the world’s oceans we have come to associate with creative conversions and liberation from the laws of society and government alike.

Floating City?! Futurist Ocean Frontiers & High-Seas Homes

In a world where almost every square inch of (non-freezing) land seems occupied, it is no wonder that our imaginations take us to the high seas when we think of adventure, freedom and new frontiers. The floating ‘Lilypad‘ concept above envisions a series of entire mobile, self-sufficient and off-the-grid ocean cities, but you do not have to look into the far future to see amazing artificial architecture for living on the water.

From former military stations to over-sized oil platforms, there are already many fully-oceanic structures sitting far from land and anchored into the Earth far below the waves. One of the classic examples is these sea fort towers off the coast of Britain that were deserted after being used to fend off air raids in world war too – and which have since been stripped of bridges but still used in a variety of creative ways both residential and commercial in nature.


Other sea forts have been converted into entire micronations (in the case of Sealand – shown in the middle row of photos above) or resort hotels (like the large round ones at the bottom, closer to the English shores than the spindly army towers shown above). Some people have even gone out of their way to build an entire all-new floating home from free recycled objects for themselves.


The Seasteading Institute has been involved in engaging architects and amateur designers alike in conceptualizing water-based homes – both fixed-in-place and free-floating-  that range from houseboat-sized ideas to whole mini-cities.

So what is the future of floating urban life? It is hard to say. There is no shortage of interesting ideas for developing water-top real estate, but cost is of course prohibitive in many cases. However, as more and more oil platforms go abandoned – each of which could arguably hold up to hundreds of attached condos and residences of various kinds – there might be a new urbanism that arises out of the depths of our world’s oceans.

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Modern Manners Tutorial II: “International Cheat Sheet”- How to Say “Cheers” in 50 Languages via [MatadorNights]


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How To Say “Cheers!” In 50 Languages

written by Lisa Lubin

Feature photo by
Photo above by tavallai

“Cheers!” is the most important word to learn
before you travel to a new country. With Matador’s definitive list,
you’ll be toasting new friends in no time.

The ancient Egyptians did it. The ancient Chinese
did it. And so did the Greeks.

People around the world have been getting drunk for thousands of
years. The act of ‘toasting’ and clinking glasses together has been
taking place for so long that the origins of the ritual are quite

There are many debated theories —the most popular being the noise of
‘clinking’ was to ward off evil spirits. Another tale claims that by
crashing glasses together, the libations in each glass would slosh into
the other person’s cup, proving that neither was poisoned.

Most commonly the toast translates to ‘good health,’ something we all
need after one too many shots.

Candy Is Dandy But liquor Is quicker.- Ogden Nash

When traveling, the act of sharing a libation with a local can help
foster international good will. Learning how to say “cheers!” in the
local language is important!

Here is an international “cheers!” cheat sheet for you to print out,
laminate, tuck into your passport, or copy to your cell phone. Enjoy!

Afrikaans : Gesondheid! : (Ge-sund-hide)

Albanian : Gëzuar! : (Géschuar)

Arabic (Egyptian) : في صحتكم! : (Fee-sa-ha-tak)

Armenian : Armenia : (Gen-ots-it)

Azerbaijani : Afiyët oslun! : (Afeeyet Ohs-lun)

Basque : On egin! : (On egín)

Photo by tatianasapateiro

Bosnian : Živjeli! : (Zhee-vi-lee)

Bulgarian : Наздраве! : (NAZ-dra-vey)

Chinese (Mandarin) : 乾杯! [干杯!] : (Gan BAY)

Chinese : (Cantonese) : (Gom bui)

Czech : Na zdravi : (NAZ-drah vi)

Croatian : Živjeli! : (ZHEE-vi-lee)

Danish : Skål! : (Skol)

Here’s to you and here’s to me, the best of
friends we’ll ever be, but if we ever disagree, to hell with you and
here’s to me


Dutch : Prosit! : (Prowst)

Photo by hzeller

English : Cheers! Bottoms up! Down the hatch! Here’s mud in your eye!

Esperanto : Je via sano! Toston! : (YEH VEE-ah SAH-no/Tóston)

Estonian : Terviseks! : (Ter-vi-seks)

Ethiopian (Amharic) : Letenachin : (L’-TAY-nah-chin)

Farsi : (Ba-sal-a-ma-TEE)

Finnish : Kippis! : (KEEP-us)

Drink is the feast of reason and the flow of
soul.–Alexander Pope

French : A Votre Sante! : (Ah Vot-ruh Sahn-tay)

Photo by fihu

Gaelic (Irish) : Sláinte! : (Slawn-che)

German : Prost! : (Prohst)

Greek : στην υγειά σας! : (Stin Eyiassou/Stin Eye-ee-yass-ooh)

Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a
merry heart. —Ecclesiastes 9:10

Hawaiian : Okole Maluna! : (Å’kålè ma’luna)

Hebrew : לְחַיִּים!/L’Chaim! : (Le Chy-em)

Hungarian : Egeszsegere! : (Egg-esh Ay-ged-reh)

Italian : Salute! : Cin cin! (Salu-tay/Chin Chin)

Japanese : /Kampai! : (Kam-pie)

Payday came and with it beer. –Rudyard Kipling

Korean : 위하여 (Chukbae) : (Sheet seki yah)

Latvian : Prieka! : (Pree-eh-ka)

Lithuanian i : sveikata! : (Ee sweh-kata)

Luxembourgish : Prost! : (Prohst)

Maltese : Evviva! : (A-vee-va)

The problem with some people is that when they
aren’t drunk they’re sober. –William Butler Yeats

Mongolian : Эрүүл мэндийн төлөө! : (Erüül mehdiin tölöö)

Norwegian : Skål! : (Skoal)

Persian : به سلامتی! : (beh salamati)

Photo by janthemanson

Polish Na : zdrowie! : (Naz-droh-vee-ay)

Portuguese : Saúde! : (Sow-ooh-jee)

Romanian : Noroc! : (No-roak)

Russian : Будем здоровы! : (Boo-dem Zdo-ro-vee-eh)

Serbian : Ziveli! : (ZHEE-vi-lee)

Slovak : Na zdravie! : (Naz-drah-vee-ay)

Work is the curse of the drinking class. -Oscar

Spanish : ¡Salud!/Salut! : (Sah-lud/Sah-lute)

Swedish : Skål! : (Skol)

Thai : ไชโย! : (Chuc-dee)

Turkish : Şerefe! : (Sher-i-feh)

Vietnamese : Chúc sức khoẻ! : (chook-sa-koi-ah)

Yiddish : געזונטערהייט! Zei Gazunt! : (Zye GAH-zoont)

Zulu : Oogy wawa! : (oogee-wawa)

Undoubtedly you will be downing many more drinks in your lifetime –
and making many toasts to international friends. Cheers!

Know how to say “Cheers!” in a language that’s not on the list?
Please leave a comment below!

About the Author

Lisa Lubin

is a a three-time Emmy-award winning writer/producer who just
completed a solo journey round the world. Check out her homepage – llworldtour.com.