Cristen Conger

Love, Evolutionary Style

I just interviewed Dr. Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., an evolutionary psychologist at State University of New York in Albany and an expert on interpersonal attraction for an article on falling in love.


The big question I'm looking to answer (which Molly and I addressed as part of our "Why does the sizzle fizzle?" podcast) is whether love is blind. Do we have any choice in the people we're attracted to and pursue for the long-term? The short answer, according to Gallup, is no.

"Interpersonal attraction is driven by some pretty powerful mechanisms," Gallup told me.

And while we'd like to think that instant chemistry and attraction is all about fate and roses and stolen glances, Gallup's research has found some pretty huge generalizations about what sets our hearts a-pounding.

• Men whose faces rate as more attractive often have higher sperm counts and more sexual partners.

• Voices of women who aren't on birth control are considered most alluring when they're mid-cycle, at their peak fertility.

• Men kiss to initiate sex or reconcile, while women kiss their partners more to monitor the status of the relationship.

• Males and females with attractive voices also tend to have earlier first sexual experiences, more sexual partners and are rated as more physically attractive.

All of these factors directly relate back to reproductive viability. In evolutionary terms, we're constantly on the hunt for the best partners to propagate our genetic lines. And you don't need poetry and expensive dinners for all of that. A chiseled jaw line, a voice that sounds like a glass of scotch and a hot kiss should do just fine.