Wednesday, 11 April 2012

One Direction mania - symmetrical faces, endorphins and sex

One Direction: the latest superstar boy band
British boy band One Direction have arrived in Sydney, to extraordinary scenes of screaming teenage girls reminiscent of the Beatles in the 60s, the Bay City Rollers in the 70s and Take That in the 90s.  So, why does this happen?

Attraction and symmetry - they are pretty boys

At an evolutionary level, Cute boys offer the potential for ideal genetic material.  One way to measure this is via symmetry.  Leonardo da Vinci's famous "Vitruvian man" demonstrated the perfect symmetrical figure. More recently, a number of studies have shown that perfectly symmetrical faces present a guide to health and strong genetic material.

I've tested this theory out on the five One Direction boys compared with my own face.  I score a rather paltry 90.5% symmetry score, while the boys range from Niall on 92.6% to Zahn on 96.6%.  Given that this was conducted with publicly available photos on an online tool, it isn't exactly scientifically rigorous, but it certainly heads in the right direction.

On a somewhat more subjective level, there is general agreement among teenage girls that these fellow are "hotties".  That proves that part of the argument than, they are attractive! Therefore, they would make ideal mating material.

Screaming, excitement, endorphins and sex

So, the boys are attractive. Yeah, we know that.  What about the screaming? Well, endorphins are a substance that is released during a variety of situations including exercise, excitement, pain, love and orgasm.  They are similar in structure and effect to opiate drugs.  Of these alternatives, for a teenage girl, excitement and love are two of the most attractive options.  So, when you combine a "crush" on a beautiful boy with the excitement of seeing them, you have the recipe for a release of endorphins.

Where does the screaming come in?

There are a variety of theories why girls scream at the boys in the band.  Certainly it is some combination of expressions of excitement, joy, and (immature) sexual desire.  Once it starts, that only heightens the endorphin release.  Due to the opioid effect, that encourages more of the same behavior, to receive more of the opioid.  The process is the same as for drug taking, and for orgasm.  In some ways, although they are unlikely to be aware of it, this is a young teenage girls form of simulating some of the same positives they will hopefully receive from sexual orgasm in years to come.

So it's all good then - let's all get carried away with some euphoria

If you believe the conservative dogma that young women should be mild mannered, meek and quiet, then you'd be critical of any form of "out of control" response, at any age.  I don't subscribe to this view - I prefer to encourage all of us to experience the full range of human emotions.

Some people will actively seek out pain through experiences like Tough Mudder, others will experience physical and emotional pain that is not of their choosing.  Fans become obsessed with their football teams, and scream at the players.  When people have sex, it can be done with a degree of control, or total abandon, releasing more endorphins. And everyone can benefit from energetic exercise.  All of these experiences, whether good or bad, are part of who we are.

Thanks girls and thanks One Direction, you've brought yet another human experience to bear.  Let your endorphins run wild.

Let me know what you think

Mark S

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