Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Smile Is “Most Attractive” Physical Feature

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and what do people find most attractive in others? The smile. A national survey from the American Dental Association and Crest® and Oral B® finds that the smile outranked eyes, hair and the body as the most attractive physical feature.

Yet men and women differ when it comes to taking care of their teeth and gums. The nationally representative survey of 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older found 86 percent of women brush their teeth twice or more a day, yet only 66 percent of men do so.

The survey also found that women say they change their toothbrush or power toothbrush head every 3-4 months on average, yet men hang on to theirs an average of 5 months. The ADA recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months or when the bristles become frayed since frayed and worn bristles decrease cleaning effectiveness.

Sadly, all Americans need to do a better job of flossing their teeth. Only half of those surveyed (49 percent) say they floss their teeth once a day or more often. And 1 out of 3 people surveyed think a little blood in the sink after brushing their teeth is normal, yet it’s not—it could signal gum disease or another health problem.

Oral health is an important part of overall health. Regular dental check-ups are important not only to diagnose and treat gum disease and tooth decay, but also because some diseases or medical conditions, such as oral cancer, have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.

Growing research indicates there may be an association between oral health and serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, underscoring the importance of good oral hygiene habits.

“We need to constantly get the word out how important it is to stay on top of your oral health,” says Dr. Ada Cooper, an ADA consumer advisor and practicing dentist in New York City. “Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet, and visiting your dentist regularly can help keep your smile healthy.”

For more information on the survey findings and other oral health information, visit the American Dental Association’s Web site at: www.ada.org

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Education and Money Attract, Chastity Not Important

This Valentine's Day, researchers at the University of Iowa have some new answers to the perennial question of what men and women want in a partner.

Men are increasingly interested in an educated woman who is a good financial prospect and less interested in chastity. Women are increasingly interested in a man who wants a family and less picky about whether he's always Mr. Nice Guy.

That's according to a study by University of Iowa sociologists Christine Whelan and Christie Boxer. They analyzed results of a 2008 survey of more than 1,100 undergraduates at the UI, the University of Washington, the University of Virginia and Penn State University, comparing the results to past mate-preference studies.

Since the 1930s, researchers have been asking college students to rank a list of 18 characteristics they'd prefer in a mate from "irrelevant" (0) to "essential" (3), allowing for a comparison of mate preferences dating back three generations. And my, how times have changed: Today's young adults rank love and attraction as most important; a few generations ago it didn't even make the top three.

"Marriage used to be a practical arrangement. Getting married for love or attraction was considered foolish and perhaps even dangerous," said Whelan, author of "Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman's Guide to True Love" and a visiting assistant professor of sociology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In the 1930s male respondents were seeking a dependable, kind lady who had skills in the kitchen. Chastity was more important than intelligence.

Now, guys look for love, brains and beauty -- and a sizable salary certainly sweetens the deal. Men ranked "good financial prospect" No. 12 in 2008, a significant climb from No. 17 in 1939 and No. 18 in 1967.

"These results are consistent with the rise in educational and career opportunities for women, and men's increasing desire to share the financial burdens with a future spouse," Whelan said.

Chastity -- which men ranked at No. 10 in 1939 -- fell to dead last in 2008.

"When we administered the survey, several female students snickered at the idea that we even included the chastity item," Whelan said. "This is consistent with the widespread hook-up culture on college campuses."

For women of the 1930s, emotional stability, dependable character and ambition ranked as the top three characteristics they wanted in a man. Attraction and love didn't come in until No. 5. Today, women, like men, put love at the top of the list, with dependability and emotional stability rounding out the top three characteristics in Mr. Right.

Women rate desire for home and children much higher in importance than men do. In 2008, women rated desire for home and children fourth men ranked it ninth.

Women ranked "pleasing disposition" as significantly less important in 2008 than they have ever before. Pleasing disposition -- presumably interpreted to mean being a nice guy -- fell from a steady ranking of No. 4 throughout the second half of the 20th Century to a significantly lower rank of No. 7 in 2008.

"Perhaps this means women will be more forgiving if the guy forgets chocolates and flowers on Saturday, as long as he meets the other requirements," quipped Whelan. "But this might also point to a change in vocabulary. 'Pleasing disposition' is a very old-fashioned phrase that might not be the most accurate measure of the modern preferences."

Whelan and Boxer, a UI graduate student, clustered their findings into rough categories of essential, important, desirable and unimportant characteristics. Groupings were compiled using the natural breakpoints in the value continuum for the statistical means. (For more on Whelan's relationship research, visit http://www.readmarrysmart.com.)

What Men Want

Essential characteristics:
--Mutual attraction and love.
--Dependable character.
--Emotional stability.

Important characteristics:
--Education and intelligence.
--Good looks.
--Ambition.

Desirable characteristics:
--Good financial prospect.
--Good cook and housekeeper.

Unimportant characteristics:
--Similar political background.
--Chastity.

What Women Want

Essential characteristics:
--Mutual attraction and love.
--Dependable character.
--Emotional stability.

Important characteristics:
--Education and intelligence.
--Desire for home and children.
--Ambition.

Desirable characteristics:
--Good looks.
--Refinement.

Unimportant characteristics:
--Similar political background.
--Chastity.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sex hormone oestradiol = opportunistic mating

Women with high levels of the sex hormone oestradiol may engage in opportunistic mating, according to a new study by psychology researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.

Doctoral candidate Kristina Durante and Assistant Professor of Psychology Norm Li published their findings in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biology Letters.

"The study offers further evidence that physiological mechanisms continue to play a major role in guiding women's sexual motivations and behavior," Durante said.

Durante and Li investigated the relationship between oestradiol, an ovarian hormone linked to fertility, and sexual motivation in a study of 52 female undergraduates not using contraception. Participants' ages ranged from 17 to 30 years old.
The researchers measured the participants' hormone levels at two points during each woman's ovulatory cycle and then asked them to rate their own physical attractiveness. Independent observers also rated the participants' physical attractiveness.
Participants also answered survey questions that measured their propensity to cheat on a partner.

The researchers found that a woman's oestradiol level was positively associated with self-perceived physical attractiveness. Women with a higher oestradiol level also reported a greater likelihood of flirting, kissing and having a serious affair (but not a one-night stand) with a new partner.

Oestradiol levels were negatively associated with a woman's satisfaction with her primary partner.

"Our findings show that highly fertile women are not easily satisfied by their long-term partners and are motivated to seek out more desirable partners," Durante explained. "However, that doesn't mean they're more likely to engage in casual sex. Instead, they adopt a strategy of serial monogamy."