Love is the Drug – What happens in your head when you look at a beautiful face


How does this picture affect your brain? Men eh, what are we like?

Fresh insight into just what it is that makes men tick can be gleaned from a couple of recent papers looking at the effect of a beautiful face on the male brain.  The first one published in Neuron, a scientific journal, reveals that men’s brains react with a burst of activity in the cortex when they look at attractive women.

It was important that it was beautiful women.  Attractive men did not elicit the same response, even though the participants in the study – who were all heterosexual men- could identify the men as being good looking.  So this wasn’t a general appreciation of looking good.

The reward sequence was observed using a brain imaging technique.  It was the same kind of reaction that has been observed from drugs and monetary rewards in other studies.  So now you know why you are addicted to looking through Maxim and FHM looking for pictures of women.  It isn’t dignified, but at least it isn’t as bad for you as a cocaine habit.

Another group has taken the same technique and applied it to women’s figures.  They found that the reward response was stimulated by shapely women rather than thin women.

What does this all mean?  Well it looks like the fashion industry’s obsession with ultra thin models isn’t doing anything for men.  But then I think most of us had already worked that one out.  The other is that if you are editing a magazine for men make sure you put plenty pictures of pretty women with good figures in it.

I have a feeling that has been worked out already as well.

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5 thoughts on “Love is the Drug – What happens in your head when you look at a beautiful face

  1. Lise

    The weird thing is, I’m not even sure women think the super skinny look is attractive either.. so who’s dictating this unhealthy and (for most women) unattainable look?? Isn’t the fashion industry predominately run by men?

  2. Colin Post author

    I think it is like the way people who are obsessive about something take it to extremes. Most of us like music, but few of us want to track down the perfect recording of Mahler’s 10th.

  3. John

    Well, I agree with you Colin. But what do you say to women on seeing men with six pack abs, it spins their heads around just like beautiful faces does for men. Am I wrong?

  4. Colin Post author

    I don’t know but women’s magazines with pictures of men on the front is a pretty rare sight. I have a feeling their brains are wired a bit different to ours.

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