Monday, February 13, 2006

National Geographic Report on Love

In time for Valentine's day, National Geographic Channel's "Naked Science" series on Monday will reveal the ever illusive reasons why humans choose the mates they do.

National Geographic reports we are pushed around by the array of chemicals in our bodies and brains that have evolved over millions of years. That's what's doing a lot of the deciding when we choose mates.

National Geographic researchers tell us that we are driven not just to reproduce but to try to preserve our own particular genes and our bodies help that drive with a pack of instinctive and hormonal reactions. Not surprisingly, Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher series of studies and found that men react to visual stimuli more than women.

She and other researchers also found that men most generally respond with desire to women with a waist-to-hips size ratio of seven-to-10, meaning, for example, that a woman with a 23 1/2-inch waistline and 35-inch hips would seem to be a good proportion, or a 28-inch waist would be attractive with 40-inch hips. The reason: it indicates easier pregnancies and birth.

"Scientists theorize that men are disproportionately attracted to women whose features indicate healthy hormonal levels," the National Geographic show says, "because that offers the promise of more easily reproducing healthy children."

Behavior patterns are hugely important to women when choosing mates, says Fisher, who did MRI studies of brain activity in people who are in love.

She says women's brains get more activity in the memory areas than men because women are mapping men's behavior. It also would explain all the phone chatter and re-telling among women friends about what their men did and did not do on the last date, she says. "Women need to create a memory trail," Fisher says.

Another factor in male/female response is fear and anxiety which heighten feelings of attraction and lust. That's why roller coasters or, even better, scary movies, are such good early dates.

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