Various physical characteristics of a partner—visual, auditory, tactile and kinetic, olfactory, and gustatory—can affect human mate choice and romantic attraction. Evolutionary factors, as well as socioeconomic and cultural parameters play their role in these sensory preferences. A series of studies in societies varying in social, economic, and cultural parameters (10 samples in six countries with 2740 participants in total) explored cross-cultural similarities and differences of sensory preferences that people have in their romantic attraction. The results revealed that social development of countries and their cultural parameters allow prediction of preferences of certain sensory parameters in one’s romantic partner’s appearance. The most general distinctions of sensory preferences are in the societies with different degree of modernization, along with corresponding social and cultural parameters. The stable biologically and evolutionarily determined characteristics of physical appearance, such as smell, skin, body, etc., are important for one’s sensory preferences in romantic attraction in less modernized societies, which are characterized by greater power distance, lower individualism, indulgence, and emancipative values. On the other hand, the characteristics of romantic partner’s appearance, which are more flexible and easier to change, such as expressive behavior, dress, dance, etc., are more important in more modernized societies with lower Power Distance, high value of Individualism, Indulgence, and Emancipation.
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Karandashev, V., Zarubko, E., Artemeva, V. et al. Cross-Cultural Comparison of Sensory Preferences in Romantic Attraction. Sexuality & Culture 24, 23–53 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-019-09628-0
- Romantic attraction
- Sensory preferences
- Socioeconomic and cultural parameters
- Cultural values
- Modernization of societies