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Biological origins of attraction are factors, on a biological level that result in attraction between two people. Attraction is a positive response in an individual to another person’s qualities and attributes which results in the romantic desire for that person. These qualities can be genes that determine our immune system and health. One indicator of health is symmetry. Body odor also plays a role in  the selection of a partner. The more a woman finds a man’s smell pleasant, the more diverse his immune system is to hers, which will result in an offspring with a strong immune system. (Wedekind et al. 1995.) There is also the evolutionary approach, the parental investment theory, that shows why men and women favor different characteristics in their partners (Buss 1989.)

Wedekind at el. (1995) found that women can decide from the smell of a man, whether he is attractive or not, and therefor determine if he would be able to produce an offspring with a strong immune system. Smell can also determine symmetry, and women tend to favor the smell of men, whom are more symmetrical, especially those women who are at the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle, as they are ready to conceive. Wedekind at el. (1995) asked men to wear clean a t-shirt for two nights and then women were asked to rate the attractiveness of the smell of each t-shirt. Both the men and women were tested for a particular set of genes (MHC genes) that were involved in the development of the immune system. The researchers found that the greater the difference between the genes in the man and the woman the more attractive she had rated the smell of the t-shirt to be. This is a good illustration of the evolution theory, which is a biological origin of attraction; a greater difference in immune system will create an offspring with a stronger immune system. 
This study provides ecological validity, since the shirts had actually been worn by men, whose scent had been transferred on to the t-shirts, although the study was conducted in America and is biased to women. Since it was only tested on women we do not know if men choose their partner based on smell as well.  

Another origin of attraction is the parental investment theory that shows the differences in what men and women rate as attractive in partner. According to Buss (1989), men who have a high social status, are older by a few years than the female, dependent and kind are favorable by women. On the contrary men are generally attracted to youth and health; at least two years younger, full lips and symmetry. These findings were done by Buss (1989), who conducted a study in which he ran a survey where the aim was to find out how our genes dictate out mate preferences. The two questionnaires used were distributed to 10,000 people from 37 countries on six continents, they were asked to rate the importance of 32 characteristics in a potential partner. In 1995 Hartfield and Sprecher replicated this study in the US, Russia and Japan. This gives the findings high ecological validity. On the other hand there is a study, which has findings that contradict the findings in Buss’s study; Simpson et al. (1986), where it is shown that women are increasingly marrying for reasons other than material necessity. Singh (1994) found that a female with the hip ratio of 0.7, regardless of body mass is attractive to men in most cultures, since it indicates the capability to bear children and give birth to a healthy child. The reason women look more into the character of their partner than men do is because they need someone to take care of her and the child after the birth. A woman has to invest much more into childbirth than a man since she is the one to bear the child for nine months. A man could leave after the woman has become pregnant, and he would still be ensured to have passed on his genes, this is why the woman has to find a dependable man who will stay and help her take care of the child.

Another study that shows the differences in attraction in men and women is a study in which the participants where shown pictures of their lovers while being monitored using fMRI. The mens’ brains were activated in the region of the brain where visual stimuli is processed, while in women brain regions associated with memory (the hippocampus) showed more activity. This would indicate that men value a woman’s appearance over her other characteristics, while women use their memory to evaluate what their partner has done in the past to get an idea of their personality and character. The findings from this study does match the evolutionary theory. Men use their vision to evaluate whether a woman is a fit partner or not, drawing their conclusion based on appearance, while women need to know how reliable or kind a man is. She processes past memories of the man’s actions to come to a conclusion. This a good illustration of where attraction origins in men and women on a biological level.

To conclude; a woman can use her sense of smell to find a suitable partner that will produce a healthy, strong offspring, as well as her memory to find a man who will be reliable and will be able to provide for the baby and the mother. Men value more than character, a young woman, with a body that can handle bearing and giving birth to a healthy child. These findings have turned out to be universal, humans look for basically the same thing in partners, on the biological level. Although there are findings that contradict the evolutionary theory, where women marry men for other reasons than what the evolutionary approach suggest women look for.


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