Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Attraction’s Irresistible Impulse

What really attracts people in 2023?

Forget the politically correct stuff.

Can you find love on Tinder?

Could it be true that love is really an addiction?

Here’s the question you really want the answer to, right?

Who ends up with who, and WHY?!

Today we go to where we haven’t gone before. Let’s find out how that goofy looking guy ended up with that amazing girl and find out how the selection process really works.

Most of this I’ve been saving for my next book. First, a quick bit of background and then a foretaste for you …

It all started in 1999.

I proposed the rather controversial idea of Speed Dating to Rhonda at Discover U in Seattle and got much the same response as I got when I proposed it to Kirsten at The Learning Annex, in Minneapolis.Sex Appeal and Attraction

They both said, “yes,” and were truly curious as to whether such an event could possibly draw people. They both loved it and were far more certain it would be profitable for their programs.

The idea was simple and I didn’t come up with it. I was second.

There was a guy in New York doing it for an exclusively Jewish group. I believe he was the only person in the country doing Speed Dating, and I don’t recall what he called it.

Sure enough, we filled the room and helped popularize not only a trend, but a very ideal laboratory for observing interactions between men and women with the explicit intention of dating/relationships.

At the time I was researching for my book, Irresistible Attraction, and this was simply a great idea.

Today, Speed Dating is pretty hot. Speed Dating isn’t like “Covert Hypnosis”, “Law of Reciprocity”, or “Master Persuader”, where I actually coined the phrase and “invented” the thing. But this turned out to be just as important and maybe more so, because where it has gone has been so influential to explaining WHY we behave the way we do.

What I learned in meticulous tracking of the results of Speed Dating Events (evolved with my partners Nancy Conger, Mary Lee LaBay and Katherin Scott, who all helped develop what would eventually become an international phenomenon) changed how I thought about attraction and relationships forever.

And we had no idea that these early events would change a lot of research models in the field of Social Psychology.

What is Speed Dating?

Speed Dating – a quick synopsis. 20 men, 20 women. Same big room. Women remain seated in their chair while the men rotate from woman to woman and “date” her for 7 minutes, then switch to the next woman, upon the group leader’s command.

Kevin Hogan on Sex AppealAt the end of each “date”, both people write “yes” or “no” on a 3 x 5 card. We would give each person a blank envelope with cards (or not) at the end of the night with the people who BOTH had “yes” written down, so they could connect again the next day.

I’ll spare you the statistics and give you some of the results interwoven with results from other research on what causes that Irresistible Impulse ….

The first finding was rather important … it is about sex appeal.

What was that finding? …

Some people are almost invisible to other people.

You look out into the room, and it’s all just a bunch of faces.

But a few stand out.

For women surveying the room, they aren’t really or necessarily, “looking” for “anything.”

What they see, though, are the few men in the room who clearly have status in the group.

Status and AttractionMaybe it’s the star player, the CEO, the Manager. It could be the high ranking officer in the military, or winner of the art contest.

Women see status and dominance.

First, don’t kid yourself. Women aren’t blind to physical appearance. They like the hot guy … and they like him a lot. But there is evolutionary wiring in women that can often over-ride that “Desire for Hotness Factor” in women that doesn’t over-ride so easily in men.

It turns out when women are ovulating they send a lot more mating signals and are far more flirtatious with those hot guys when compared to the rest of the month when they are not.

We’ll save that for another week.

There’s an obvious problem inherent to attractive men. It’s the same problem men face when they pursue attractive women. The difference, all things being equal, is that men never stop acting on their attraction to physical appearance. Women have internal switches that shut off the quest for “hot” after a few days each month.

So what happens when the Desire for Hot is squelched?

Physical appearance is evolutionary and just as predictive of reproductive success as a man’s status or dominance in a group.

Most women are wired to be with a dominant or high status male. The reproductive benefits are enormous. And the economics of strictly attractive men is not so good. In other words, highly attractive men bring as many problems to the table as they do have eye candy benefits. In other words, they tend to stray.

Women intuitively recognize this and 25 days each month, they don’t process the attractive male the same way men process attractive females.

The square jaw, the symmetrical facial features, each side a mirror of the other. Five days each month it’s unstoppable. And it goes way beyond that solid jaw.

Before we look at what happens in real life at the long term level, know that she didn’t see his face first. Unlike men, women “look” at a man’s body and his height (at the nonconscious level) before they even see his face.

On the other hand, men are the clear winner at being “face first” before body.

Meanwhile, research shows that taller men are more likely to be CEO than their shorter counterparts and men are getting taller with each generation.

50 years ago, a 5’8″ man was normal. Today he is close to being filtered out of consciousness by Alpha Females … those women who can have the pick of the litter …

[Alpha Females are defined in this article as women in the top quintile of desirability by men. That’s the top 20%. Beta Females refer to the top 50%]

Today, the 5’10” man is the norm. And he needs every inch of that.

Better or worse, depending on how you look at it, the taller men are in a better position than the shorter men.

Better looking men earn almost no more than their shorter counterparts.

And if Alpha Women can’t find status and dominance … or if status and dominance have been taken by someone else in the group, their genes move them in the direction of the most attractive of those who remain. If however she was looking for … tonight … she would have been just like the man, looking for solely physical attractiveness…

… with a caveat. The Alpha Woman has her choice. The other 80% have the choice of what is left.

The 80% won’t connect with the high status or highly dominant males. They won’t link up with the best looking man in the group. That’s simply and utterly rare in humankind.

But all is not lost.

The Beta Women, those in the top 50% of physical appearance, will almost to a woman connect with those remaining Alpha and all Beta Males of the group.

Isn’t that a little shallow? Certainly women tell you they want a “nice guy,” who will “care about me,” “who will respect me.”

And that can be true.

How exactly does a woman make up her mind? …

Conscious minds rarely make decisions in attraction.

The female is rather conflicted. The male is generally not conflicted at all.

attraction and genesFor the female, the conflict is with what her genes are seeking. That nonconscious mind is fickle. It “wants” a man who will be successful from the standpoint of reproduction. Healthy, good looking, a man with resources, the top of the group. All of these criteria are nonconscious filters.

Ask women how they ended up with the last man they broke up with and you’ll find he was the most persistent of the men she had recent contact with.

In general, both women and men have seen plenty by the time they have dated seven members of the opposite sex.

Specifically, that means that the last seven were representative of the litter. Throw out the star and the loser and what remains is what remains. The woman, the man, has seen and dated what is in their “league.”

If women are shallow, men are ankle deep.

Men have filtering systems just like women, except there aren’t as many.

Men don’t have a conscious or nonconscious filter for “non-monetary resources” like knowledge, job, educational status/history, or frankly, anything, except money. Men aren’t interested in “her prospects.” Though they are interested in her bank account.

what men wantAt the nonconscious level, men filter women by physical appearance.

There is, however, a different system of calculation for men than women.

Once men have been in their seven “relationships,” whether one night or one decade in duration, they “know” their value on the market.

The man entering the room with a random group of women will indeed instantly find the most attractive of the women. Almost all heterosexual men will. And if there is an ounce of justification in his resource or attractiveness potential, he’ll go for it.

But the Beta Male will not approach the Alpha Female, unless he’s had quite a bit to drink or drop.

There is a warning system for men that rejection is coming and it has a similar effect as a police car’s siren or the Emergency Broadcast system.

Ultimately, all but the Alpha Males will avoid the Alpha Females.

And how does one become an Alpha Female?

  • Her job?
  • Her popularity with other women?
  • Her intelligence?
  • Her educational background?
  • Her propensity to smile?
  • The warmth you feel when sitting in front of the fireplace?

All meaningless.

The Alpha Female knows she is Alpha because of The Seven. She knows she is Alpha because everywhere she goes, she experiences the same behaviors from males.

Men tell her.
She knows they are right.
She is beautiful.

And that is all that matters to the nonconscious mind of an Alpha Male.

Beta Females recognize they are in the top half of desirables, and they know precisely what they means. They will almost always get second best, but they do just fine.

As men age, their value CAN reduce but it is not “the rule” as you will see in a moment. But the dramatic declines in the Alpha Woman as she ages seem like a perfect example of unfairness and inequality between men and women.

One dating site known for it’s massive research engine found that men of all ages find that 18 is the most desirable age or a woman. It doesn’t increase as he ages.

Women however have a different slope. Very soon after the early twenties the desire sits on the number, age 53. You wouldn’t have guessed that. I wouldn’t have. I didn’t.

And it is.

Shocking truths about attractiveness? …

Attractive women enjoy a net worth that is 11 times greater than the net worth of average women. That’s eleven times.

The number over unattractive is daunting, approaching 100:1.

Attractive women are far more likely to get a job, get promoted and earn more money.

Working for men?

No. Men in the office treat the attractive woman far more equally than the other women in the office treat the same attractive woman. Women recognize Alpha Females and they, too, know they are in the top 20% of desirability. Women in positions to hire and promote consciously and nonconsciously show strong preference to attractive women.

What’s more phenomenal, as mentioned in today’s other article of the week, is that mothers of children are far less likely to abuse their attractive babies than their unattractive babies.

From day one, literally, attractive children are treated very differently than unattractive children.

There is no other nonconscious filter for men.

From culture to culture, there are variations on just which women are the most attractive, but if you watch international beauty pageants, it takes very little scientific analysis to know that these Alpha Females fit the perceptual “on” filters of almost all heterosexual men.

And what of the Beta Females?

What of those who miss the Alpha cut?

As noted, they can do quite well.

They will rarely land the highest of the Alpha Males.

However, because there are more ways for a woman to keep a man on the nonconscious possibility list, she will actually sample from a different plate than men do.

Because women have multiple filters, there are more than 20% of men who can “fit” into the top 20%!

The Alpha Female may sample the high status male at church. She may sample the wealthy doctor. She may sample the winner of the city’s Handyman of the Year award, if that’s a field she finds important.

She will certainly sample the life of the party. She will easily intuit the obviously in-charge Alpha seated in the corner, holding court.

Unlike the Alpha Male who will filter in only the top 20%, the Alpha Female will filter in a group that could comprise as many as 30%.

And this is why that beautiful woman can end up with that greasy looking guy…who happens to be lead singer in a band or the winner of the Handyman Award … but it doesn’t work the other way around.

The Alpha Male will rarely enter into a relationship with anyone other than an Alpha Female.

It’s not his fault.

It’s in his genes.

As it is for the woman.

Are there other factors involved?

Yes, of course. We’ll talk about some of these in a future article.

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Author of The Psychology of Persuasion, Irresistible Attraction, and The Science of Influence, Dr. Kevin Hogan is trusted by organizations, both large and small, to help them help their people reach their personal peak performance and maximize influence in selling and marketing. Kevin is an internationally admired keynote speaker and corporate thought leader. In Coffee with Kevin Hogan, he shares his research, observations, and how you can apply them in your life – both in business and at home.

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