This scientist claims one speed date - and a dash of phrenology - is all you need.
While we've long been taught that first impressions are basically a function of experience, Professor Helen Fisher of Rutgers University says this isn't the case: according to MRI studies she did, "love" - as defined by science - can be instantaneous. According to The Guardian
The idea that you can infer more from a brief encounter than just sexual attraction is supported by findings from the Perception Lab at the University of St Andrews, which suggests that it may be possible to identify men who are more likely to indulge in short-term flings from facial features alone. In the study, 700 heterosexual participants were shown pairs of photographs of facial images of men and women in their early 20s who held opposing views on relationships. When asked to choose the male faces they felt would be more open to one-night stands, the majority chose correctly. The same faces were also judged to be the most masculine - characterised by a strong jaw, heavy brow ridges, a high forehead and larger nose.
While this sounds suspiciously like phrenology - and as such evokes various vague eugenics associations - Fisher claims that the hormones testosterone, estrogen, dopamine and serotonin can help determine "not only facial features but character types."
She would argue that the physically masculine men in the study above display an openness to one-night stands due to increased prenatal testosterone, and has found that women and men who have a round "baby" face, puffy lips, small nose and big eyes are likely to have had more exposure to oestrogen before birth which, she argues, may make them a better bet for something long-term.
While off the tops of our heads we can think of exceptions to this rule, we suppose we're willing to give it some hypothetical cred. That said, can nature trump nurture in this regard? And what about the fact that, according to these criteria, we're apparently programmed to think of assholes as attractive and "masculine?" Fisher also makes correlations between people's one-word self-description and the pre-natal hormone levels...but surely that kind of response is conditioned by society, upbringing, and the person you're talking to? Here's the thing: in a lab, all this might be true. But as we all know too well, the dating world is anything but controlled...and a lot depends on how bad the last guy was.
Written all over your face [The Guardian]