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Your weird attraction to Prince Harry: a theory

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Prince Harry approves of this important research.

When it comes to a man’s hotness quotient, there are the usual shallow suspects. But let’s just blame evolution for a woman’s fondness for broad shoulders and a v-shaped torso.

Now, a new study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology finds that women like their men to have a little blush to their faces. Who knew? But that could explain why so many women find Prince Harry and Bill Clinton so darn yummy; their rosy faces may actually discount the fact that one is, well, a prince and the other, a former U.S. president. Or maybe not. 

In any case, red really does rule, eliciting a range of emotions and behaviors in humans and other species, according to newly published research in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

Among some male birds, fish and primates, the color red acts as a kind of beacon, broadcasting social dominance, testosterone levels and influencing mate selection. Humans actually show physical avoidance reactions (they move their bodies away) from red-covered IQ test booklets rather than green or grey ones. We even perform worse on cognitive tests after exposure to red when compared to other colors. But it can help us hook up. Women who wear red are more attractive to men. And men who wear red get a second look from more women. Red even influences athletics. If you want to be on a winning sports team, wear a red jersey.

The mystery, it seems, was whether women found that facial redness actually makes a man seem more attractive or dominant.

In the (small) study, 45 Caucasian women were shown photos of 21 Caucasian men, all with neutral expressions. The women could then manipulate the complexions of the men, adding red or yellow tones, to make them appear as aggressive, dominant or attractive as possible. Dominance, aggression and attractiveness were not defined for the trial participants.

What the women did was increase redness, while holding lightness and yellowness constant, when asked to make the men look dominant. They added even more red when asked to make the men look aggressive.

But when it came to attractiveness, think a little pink. It’s a rosy glow that women deemed smokin’ hot.

Researchers speculate that slight degree of ruddiness, which doesn’t make a man look too aggressive or too dominant, may be viewed as a sign of good health and fitness, a turn-on in any species.  

But getting too red in the face is just one big sexual buzzkill.

The researchers found the uber-red of aggressiveness puts a big damper on a man’s perceived attractiveness. In other words, the benefit of being with a man who is healthy and dominant outweighs the potential risks of being with a man who is perceived as too aggressive.

In other words, guys, a little rosy can go a long way.

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