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The facts of life: attraction

"Beer goggles" exist: people do appear more attractive after a few drinks, according to researchers from the University of Bristol. Students who had consumed alcohol rated pictures of people their own age as being more attractive than did the controls in the experiment, who drunk only lime cordial.

Gentlemen do not necessarily prefer blondes. In a study of 3,000 women, 20 per cent of brunettes had had five or more relationships in their life, while only 13 per cent of blondes said the same.

A study by the Canadian Federal election board in 1974 found that attractive candidates polled two and a half times as many votes as unattractive ones.

Being on the pill may affect women's ability to sniff out the perfect partner, according to the University of Liverpool. 100 women were asked to sniff 100 men's sweaty shirts. Those on the pill mostly chose genetically similar odours as the most attractive. Human beings are instinctively inclined to go for genetically dissimilar mates.

A study in Pennsylvania in 1980 found that defendants rated as "attractive" received considerably lighter sentences than unattractive ones.

A study of skulls of human ancestors and modern humans found that women select males with short upper faces. The region between the brow and the lip is scrunched proportionately to the overall head size. Will Smith and Brad Pitt fit the bill.

Wearing too much make-up can mask the scent that attracts men during ovulation. An experiment found that women's armpit scent was at its most attractive to men between the end of their cycle and ovulation, but this can easily be obscured by cosmetics.

A tendency to prefer genetically similar partners may be becoming more pronounced in some social classes, some scientists say. It is possible that one of the causes of the autism epidemic is the growing tendency for successful men to be attracted to and have children with powerful, assertive and intelligent females.

Not everyone is attracted to other humans - there are believed to be around 40 "objectum sexuals" in the world who feel attraction, arousal, love and even commitment for an object instead. Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, for example has been "married" to the Berlin Wall since 1979.

First impressions count. We make a decision on the suitability of someone as a partner within four minutes, a study found.

Don't rely on chat-up lines, as only seven per cent of attraction is down to what you say on a first encounter. Body language is much more important, accounting for 55 per cent, whilst the tone and speed of your voice provides 38 per cent.

Acting like Hugh Grant may be the key to a woman's heart, as self-deprecation is highly attractive. The anthropologist Gil Greengross, who conducted the study, said: "It is a risky form of humour because it can draw attention to one's real faults. But self-deprecating humour can be a reliable indicator, not only of general intelligence and verbal creativity, but also moral virtues such as humility." Trying to be too clever can be off-putting.