Why clas­si­cal mu­sic is the way to a lady’s heart

Daily Mail - - News - By Vic­to­ria Allen Science Cor­re­spon­dent

IT might ex­plain the smoul­der­ing looks that pass be­tween cou­ples in pe­riod dra­mas.

Men ap­pear more hand­some to women when stir­ring clas­si­cal mu­sic is play­ing in the back­ground, psy­chol­o­gists have found.

The dis­cov­ery sug­gests it is no co­in­ci­dence that love blos­soms be­tween Mr Darcy and El­iz­a­beth Ben­net to the strains of a pi­ano play­ing in a coun­try house in Jane Austen’s Pride And Prej­u­dice.

Clas­si­cal mu­sic makes women more at­tracted to men, per­haps be­cause they mis­take their en­joy­ment of the melody for a spark of ro­mance, the study found. Re­searchers played clas­si­cal mu­sic by com­posers in­clud­ing Schu­bert and Chopin to 64 women while show­ing them pho­to­graphs of male faces.

The men var­ied in hand­some­ness, rang­ing from unattrac­tive to good look­ing, but the fe­males were more likely to want to date them when the 19th cen­tury pi­ano mu­sic was play­ing in the back­ground. The more stir­ring the mu­sic, the greater the at­trac­tion. Re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Vi­enna, who con­ducted the study, ref­er­ence Charles Dar­win’s view that mu­sic, like bird­song in our an­i­mal cousins, may play a role in hu­man courtship.

Writ­ing in the jour­nal PLOS One, they state: ‘In light of Dar­win’s the­ory, th­ese re­sults gen­er­ally sup­port the idea that the ex­pe­ri­ence of mu­sic may play a role in women’s so­cial be­hav­iour in a mat­ing con­text, and es­pe­cially that high-arous­ing (i.e. more com­plex) mu­sic af­fects the per­cep­tion of male fa­cial at­trac­tive­ness and dating de­sir­abil­ity.’ Men are not af­fected by clas­si­cal mu­sic in the same way, ac­cord­ing to the find­ings of part of the ex­per­i­ment show­ing 32 men pho­to­graphs of women.

Like women, they were asked to rate whether they would like to date each per­son pic­tured, both while the clas­si­cal mu­sic was play­ing and in si­lence.

Pro­fes­sor Hel­mut Leder, a co-au­thor of the study from the Univer­sity of Vi­enna, said: ‘Fa­cial at­trac­tive­ness is one of the most im­por­tant phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics that can in­flu­ence the choice of a part­ner. We wanted to find out how mu­sic can al­ter the per­cep­tion of this fea­ture.’

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