Sexual attractiveness or sex appeal refers to an individual's ability to attract the sexual or erotic interest of another person, and is a factor in sexual selection or mate choice. The attraction can be to the physical or other qualities or traits of a person, or to such qualities in the context in which they appear. The attraction may be to a person's looks or movements or to their voice or smell, besides other factors. The attraction may be enhanced by a person's adornments, clothing, perfume, hair style, and anything else which can attract the sexual interest of another person. It can also be influenced by individual genetic, psychological, or cultural factors, or to other, more amorphous qualities of the person. Sexual attraction is also a response to another person that depends on a combination of the person possessing the traits and also on the criteria of the person who is attracted.
Though attempts have been made to devise objective criteria of sexual attractiveness, and even measure it as one of several bodily forms of capital asset (see erotic capital), a person's sexual attractiveness is to a large extent a subjective measure dependent on another person's interest, perception, and sexual orientation. For example, a gay or lesbian person would typically find a person of the same sex to be more attractive than one of the other gender. A bisexual person would find either sex to be attractive. Asexuality refers to those who do not experience sexual attraction for either sex, though they may have romantic attraction (homoromantic, biromantic or heteroromantic). Interpersonal attraction includes factors such as physical or psychological similarity, familiarity, similarity, complementarity, reciprocal liking, and reinforcement.
The ability of a person's physical and other qualities to create a sexual interest in others is the basis of their use in advertising, film, and other visual media, as well as in modeling and other occupations.
Social and biological factors
Human sexuality has many aspects. In biology, sexuality describes the reproductive mechanism as well as the basic biological drive that exists in all sexually reproducing species and can encompass sexual intercourse and sexual contact in all its forms. There are also emotional and physical aspects of sexuality. These relate to the bond that exists between individuals, which may be expressed through profound feelings or emotions. Sociologically, it can cover the cultural, political, and legal aspects; philosophically, it can span the moral, ethical, theological, spiritual, and religious aspects.
Which aspects of a person's sexuality attract another is influenced by cultural factors, and has varied over time, as well as personal factors. Influencing factors may be determined more locally among sub-cultures, across sexual fields, or simply by the preferences of the individual. These preferences come about as a result of a complex variety of genetic, psychological, and cultural factors.
A person's physical appearance has a critical impact on their sexual attractiveness. This involves the impact one's appearance has on the senses, especially in the beginning of a relationship:
- Visual perception (how the other looks and acts or moves, for example while dancing);
- Audition (how the other's voice and movements sound);
- Olfaction (how the other smells, naturally or artificially; the wrong smell may be repellent).
As with other animals, pheromones may also have an impact, though less significantly in the case of humans. Theoretically, the "wrong" pheromone may cause someone to be disliked, even when they would otherwise appear attractive. Frequently a pleasant smelling perfume is used to encourage the member of the opposite sex to more deeply inhale the air surrounding its wearer, increasing the probability that the pheromones from the individual will also be inhaled. The importance of pheromones in human relationships is probably limited and is widely disputed, although it appears to have some scientific basis.
Many people exhibit high levels of sexual fetishism, and are sexually stimulated by other stimuli not normally associated with sexual arousal. The degree to which such fetishism exists or has existed in different cultures is controversial.
People consciously or subconsciously enhance their sexual attractiveness or sex appeal for a number of reasons. It may be to attract someone with whom they can form a deeper relationship, for companionship, procreation, or an intimate relationship, besides other possible purposes. It can be part of a courtship process. This can involve physical aspects or interactive processes whereby people find and attract potential partners, and maintain a relationship. These processes, which involve attracting a partner and maintaining sexual interest, can include flirting, which can be used to attract the sexual attention of another in order to encourage romance or sexual relations, and can involve body language, conversation, joking, or brief physical contact.
- ^ Flexner, Stuart Berg; Soukhanov, Anne H. (1997). Speaking freely: a guided tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley. Oxford University Press. p. 373. ISBN 019510692X. http://books.google.com/books?&id=FlANAQAAMAAJ.
- ^ Miller, R., Perlman, D., and Brehm, S.S. Intimate Relationships, 4th Edition, McGrawHill Companies.
- ^ "Will pheromones make you irresistible to the opposite sex?". The Straight Dope. http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_206.html. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
- ^ "First Evidence of a Human Response to Pheromones". ScientificAmerican.com. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=0007F9B4-B6D4-1C60-B882809EC588ED9F&sc=I100322. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
- ^ SIRC Guide to Flirting. What Social Science can tell you about flirting and how to do it. Retrieved 13 October 2009.
- Feinberg DR, Jones BC, Law Smith MJ, et al. (February 2006). "Menstrual cycle, trait estrogen level, and masculinity preferences in the human voice". Horm Behav 49 (2): 215–22. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.07.004. PMID 16055126. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0018-506X(05)00170-4.
- On peculiarities of Russian sex appeal, see Draitser, Emil (1999). Making war, not love: Gender and sexuality in Russian humor. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 13–32. ISBN 0-312-22129-0.
- Sexual Attraction Among Humans
- FaceResearch – Scientific research and online studies on the role of faces in sexual attraction
- Reunions Set Off Sex Urges, Article on sexual attraction among birth relatives sparked by reunion.
- www.lookism.info deconstruction of attraction and beauty standards
Identity Law History Relationships
By country Sexual activitiesAnilingus · Anal sex · Ass to mouth · Bareback · BDSM · Circle jerk · Cock-and-ball torture · Creampie · Cum shot · Cybersex · Dirty talk · Facial · Felching · Fingering · Fisting · Gang bang · Group sex · Masturbation · Mechanics of sex · Non-penetrative sex (Mammary intercourse · Heavy petting · Handjob · Sumata) · Oral sex · Stimulation of nipples · Orgasm control · Pompoir · Quickie · Sex positions · Sexual intercourse (Foreplay) · Sex magic · Sexual penetration · Sexual sublimation · Snowballing · Tea bag · Venus Butterfly Sex industry Religion and sexuality Animal sexual behaviour · Human sexuality · Sexology · Sexual slang
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
sexual attraction — noun attractiveness on the basis of sexual desire • Hypernyms: ↑attraction, ↑attractiveness … Useful english dictionary
sexual attraction — being physically and sexually drawn to someone … English contemporary dictionary
Genetic sexual attraction — (GSA) is sexual attraction between close relatives, such as brother and sister, who first meet as adults.Fact|date=June 2007 The effect is also seen between cousins.Fact|date=June 2007GSA may occur as a consequence of adoption, when the adopted… … Wikipedia
Attraction to disability — is a sexualised interest of people in the appearance, sensation and experience of disability. It may extend from normal human sexuality into a type of sexual fetishism. Sexologically, the pathological end of the attraction tends to be seen[Need… … Wikipedia
Sexual orientation — is believed to refer to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes. According to the American Psychological Association it also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social… … Wikipedia
Sexual arousal — is the process and state of an animal being ready for sexual activity and feeling an urge for sexual contact. Human sexual arousal Sexual arousal for a man results in an increased blood flow to the penis, to produce an erection. In a woman, the… … Wikipedia
Sexual assault — Classification and external resources Konstantin Makovsky, The Bulgarian martyresses, a painting depicting the atrocities of bashibazouks in Bulgaria during the Russo Turkish War (1877–1878) … Wikipedia
Sexual fetishism — Classification and external resources Foot fetishism is one of the most common fetishes ICD 10 F … Wikipedia
Sexual slang — headwords in Wiktionary sexual intercourse sexual partner prostitute promiscuous man … Wikipedia
Sexual ethics — is a category of ethics that pertain to acts falling within the broad spectrum of human sexual behavior, sexual intercourse in particular. Broadly speaking questions of sexual ethics can be organized into issues related to consent, issues related … Wikipedia