The Biology of Attraction

Feb 20, 2014 Comments by

The online dating and matchmaking industry typically relies upon questionnaires and psychological assessments to try and help singles find their perfect partner.  While this has been a long standing tactic, there have been great strides in understanding the biology behind attraction in a field of science called Pairomics.


Over the past 20 years, scientists have studied how our biology affects human attraction.  They have studied everything from how visual and vocal cues contribute to physical attraction to the effects of inbred populations on desired traits.  Pairomics has also identified that our natural body scent is a crucial component – and a subconscious one – of sexual attraction.

The Scent of Attraction

Our body scent is largely determined by HLA genes.  These genes create differences in our body scent the same way as genes lead to different hair or eye colour.  Interestingly, pairomics have shown that couples in successful, long-term relationships have very different HLA genes from their partner.  Scientists refer to this as “biological compatibility.”  This was first discovered 20 years ago in an experiment affectionately known as the “sweaty t-shirt experiment.”  Here, women smelled shirts worn by men and ranked them. They consistently ranked men with HLA genes unlike their own as more attractive.  For the next 20 years, research identified that biologically compatible partners find each other more attractive, have more satisfying sex lives, increased fertility rates, as well as healthier children.

Marital SatisfactionInstant Chemistry

Pairomics has also found a link between serotonin and martial satisfaction.  The protein which moves serotonin into our cells occurs differently in people.  Scientists call it the “long” or “short” version of the protein.  Depending on the version you have, this protein partially determines how you cope with emotional stress.  Individuals with the short version are the most unhappy when dealing with negative emotion, but are also the most happy when faced with positive emotion.  People with the long version don’t experience these highs and lows to emotional stress.  This can lead to conflict in emotional responses that affect our martial satisfaction.  There isn’t a good or bad version of the protein, but it helps us understand our partner’s reaction to emotional change.

Advancements in Matchmaking

Until recently, the science behind biological compatibility has only been available to researchers.  Now, Instant Chemistry is now making it available to everyone.  HLA compatibility is being paired with traditional matchmaking methods to help singles find that special person they are deeply connected with, down to a biological level.  And coming soon, Instant Chemistry will be combining knowledge about HLA and serotonin with psychological assessment to provide its patrons the ability to understand their partner on a very intimate level.

Interested in learning more? Visit Instant Chemistry’s website at:  Having any lingering questions? Feel free to contract our Instant Chemistry correspondent, James, via email at


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About the author

James Greco obtained his M.Sc. in physiology from the University of Toronto in 2013, where he studied the effects of fatty acids on the circadian rhythms of hypothalamic neurons. James has worked in numerous labs including the University Health Network, York University and the University of Toronto. He has also studied internationally at Dublin City University. Following the completion of his academic career, James is now turning his focus to the biotechnology industry in order to convert undervalued research into useful products and services for the public.