When Franz Schubert composed his Piano Sonata 19 in C Minor, he probably didn't think that one day it might help a guy get a date. According to new research from the University of Vienna, this is exactly what might be happening.
Manuela M. Marin is a PhD candidate at the University of Vienna in Austria. Her main focus is Experimental Psychology, and in particular how music affects us.
“You just watch pictures, listen to music, concentrate on stimuli, and we measure this. It's not like you can see it, like when you do sports, but we can measure it,” Marin explained.
The idea that music has an influence on us, is not new. It actually dates back all the way to Darwin. According to Marin, Darwin theorized that music has a reproductive function. Just like birds use their songs to attract the opposite sex, Darwin theorized that humans who are capable of producing music send the opposite sex a message.
“They have enhanced cognitive abilities, very good motor skills, and so on and so forth. This is a kind of signal to the opposite sex that the person can spend resources on music-making. Additional resources that have nothing to do now with food or for hunting” Marin explained.
Marin started with this idea and took it a step further. Can just listening to music be enough to influence how people perceive the opposite sex?
“What I did was ask three groups of people to give ratings of attractiveness and the desire to date the person. They were all heterosexual. And I had a group of men and two groups of women,” explained Marin.
She had 40 professionally photographed faces, half male, half female, and they showed them to each group while playing what's considered highly arousing music (meaning music that would activate their autonomous nervous system). Afterwards, they asked the participants to simply rank the pictures from “very unattractive” to “very attractive” and from “No, I would not date this person by any means” to “I'd love to date this person.”
“What we found was that females were really influenced in the ratings of the male faces (...) We did not find this effect with the men. So then it means, basically, that for men, the effect of music was not there and it did not affect their facial attractiveness ratings of females. But females were sensitive to the music. They showed enhanced attractiveness ratings and enhanced dating desirability after music in the comparison,” Marin said.
While promising, Marin's study is just in the initial stages. The next steps include expanding the range of songs and also changing the setting where the study is conducted.
“I thought about doing a study on speed dating and background music because it's quite realistic, right?” said Marin.
For all the guys out there who are a bit insecure about their physical appearance, Marin's research might be the confidence boost they need. So go get yourself a couple of 19th century solo pianos and see for yourself. Let us know how it goes.