According to Woody Allen, “only two things in life are important: one is sex, and the other isn’t all that important”. This view is rather shared by evolutionary psychologists, who in recent years have established the central rules underlying what we find attractive in a potential partner and why.
Mate choice is determined by a “reproductive imperative”, the need to pass our genes on to the next generation. Even our instinct for survival is subservient to this central aim.
This illustrated lecture outlines what determines our perception of beauty and from whence sex appeal originates in men and women respectively. It is very much “in the brain of the beholder” and derives from health, fertility and parental quality.
Dr Glenn Wilson was a pioneer of evolutionary approaches to the understanding of mating and dating, attracting much hostility when this was unfashionable in the 1970s. His book Love and Instinct is a classic in the field and has recently been reissued.