In biology , sexuality describes the reproductive mechanism and 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 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; it 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: 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 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,[ citation needed ] increasing the probability that the individual's pheromones will be inhaled. The importance of pheromones in human relationships is probably limited and is widely disputed,[ unreliable source? The degree to which such fetishism exists or has existed in different cultures is controversial.
Pheromones have been determined to play a role in sexual attraction between people. They influence gonadal hormone secretion, for example, follicle maturation in the ovaries in females and testosterone and sperm production in males. Please improve this section by adding secondary or tertiary sources. December Learn how and when to remove this template message Research conducted by Donald G. Dutton and Arthur P.
Aron in the s aimed to find the relation between sexual attraction and high anxiety conditions. In doing so, 85 male participants were contacted by an attractive female interviewer at either a fear-arousing suspension bridge or a normal bridge. Conclusively, it was shown that the male participants who were asked to by the female interviewer to perform the thematic apperception test TAT on the fear-arousing bridge, wrote more sexual content in the stories and attempted, with greater effort, to contact the interviewer after the experiment than those participants who performed the TAT on the normal bridge.
In another test, a male participant, chosen from a group of 80, was given anticipated shocks. With him was an attractive female confederate, who was also being shocked. The experiment showed that the male's sexual imagery in the TAT was much higher when self shock was anticipated and not when the female confederate shock was anticipated. 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 to encourage romance or sexual relations, and can involve body language , conversation, joking, or brief physical contact.
However,  additional trends have been found with a greater sensitivity to partner status in women choosing a sexual partner and men placing a greater emphasis on physical attractiveness in a potential mate, as well as a significantly greater tendency toward sexual jealousy in men and emotional jealousy in women.
In general, they found biological sex played a bigger role in the psychology of sexual attraction than orientation. However, there were some differences between homosexual and heterosexual women and men on these factors. While gay and straight men showed similar psychological interest in casual sex on markers of sociosexuality , gay men showed a larger number of partners in behaviour expressing this interest proposed to be due to a difference in opportunity.
Self-identified lesbian women showed a significantly greater interest in visual sexual stimuli than heterosexual women and judged partner status to be less important in romantic partnerships. Heterosexual men had a significantly greater preference for younger partners than homosexual men.
Gray asexuality includes those who only experience sexual attraction under certain circumstances; for example, exclusively after an emotional bond has been formed. This tends to vary from person to person. Sexual preferences and hormones The ovulatory shift hypothesis refers to the idea that female humans tend to exhibit different sexual behaviours and desires at points in their cycle, as an evolutionarily adaptive means to ensure that a high quality male is chosen to copulate with during the most fertile period of the cycle.
For example, it has been suggested that women's sexual preferences shift toward more masculine physical characteristics during peak phases of fertility. In such, a symmetrical and masculine face outwardly indicates the reproductive value of a prospective mate.
A meta analysis, investigating 50 studies about whether women's mate preferences for good gene-related male traits changed across the ovarian cycle found that women's preferences change across their cycle: Women show the greatest preference for good gene male traits at their most fertile window. In males, a masculine face has been positively correlated with fewer respiratory diseases and, as a consequence, masculine features offer a marker of health and reproductive success.
It is therefore suggested that females are attracted to masculine faces only during ovulation as masculinity reflects a high level of fitness, used to ensure reproductive success. Whilst such preferences may be of lesser importance today, the evolutionary explanation offers reasoning as to why such effects are recorded. As well as masculinity, females are more sensitive to the scent of males who display high levels of developmental stability. In a comparison of female college students, the results indicated that those normally cycling were more receptive to the scent of shirts worn by symmetrical men when nearing peak fertility in their ovulatory cycle.
The same women reported no such preference for the scent of symmetrical men when re-tested during non-fertile stages of the menstrual cycle. Those using the contraceptive pill , and therefore not following regular cyclical patterns, reported no such preference. This is evidenced in research focusing on traits of symmetrical males, who consistently record higher levels of IQ, coordination, social dominance, and consequently, greater reproductive fitness. In such, during ovulation, females show a strong preference for symmetrical males as they are reaching peak fertility.
As it would be advantageous for asymmetrical men to release a scent similar to that produced by symmetrical males, the female signal used to detect symmetry is presumed to be an honest one asymmetrical males cannot fake it. It has been found that women have a preference towards more masculine voices during the late-follicular, fertile phase of the menstrual cycle.
This effect has been found to be most significant in women who are less feminine those with low E3G levels , in comparison to women with higher E3G levels. It has been suggested that this difference in preference is because feminine women those with high E3G levels are more successful at obtaining investment. It is not necessary for these women to change their mating preferences during their cycles. More masculine women may make these changes to enhance their chances of achieving investment.
Women have been found to report greater sexual attraction to men other than their own partners when near ovulation compared with the luteal phase.
Women whose partners have high developmental stability have greater attraction to men other than their partners when fertile. This can be interpreted as women possessing an adaptation to be attracted to men possessing markers of genetic fitness, therefore sexual attraction depends on the qualities of her partner. The ornamentation effect is a phenomenon influenced by a stage of the menstrual cycle which refers to the way a woman presents herself to others, in a way to attract potential sexual partners.
Studies have found that the closer women were to ovulation , the more provocatively they dress and the more attractive they are rated. It is possible that women are sensitive to the changes in their physical attractiveness throughout their cycles, such that at their most fertile stages their levels of attractiveness are increased.
Consequently, they choose to display their increased levels of attractiveness through this method of ornamentation.
For example, women who had weekly sexual intercourse with men had menstrual cycles with the average duration of 29 days, while women with less frequent sexual interactions tended to have more extreme cycle lengths. Research has found that men are a lot more attentive and loving towards their partners when they are in the most fertile phase of their cycles, in comparison to when they are in the luteal phases.
Therefore, these behavioral adaptations have developed as a form of mate guarding , which increases the male's likelihood of maintaining the relationship and increasing chances of reproductive success.