Here's Why Everyone Wants to Have Sex with the Drummer
Darwin similarly suspected what Penny Lane posited in Almost Famous: No one is inherently a groupie, but there is something about music that draws people in. Or in Darwinian terms, musicality is a product of sexual selection — a courtship tool individuals use to attract romantic options.
Past research has found that playing music can make men appear more attractive to women, but not the other way around — work that a new study recently expanded upon. For it, researchers recruited 35 women and 23 men, who were all single students and not taking hormonal birth control, which can alter attraction, and surveyed them about their age, mood and the general role of music in their lives.
Afterward, they were divided into two groups. The control group was shown a series of 37 faces and asked to rate those faces for “attractiveness” and “dating desirability.” Twenty of the photos were picked specifically to be attractive, while the other 17 were neutral same-sex faces. The second group listened to different musical excerpts of piano performances as they were shown the same faces, before being shown the face of the one person they were told was the pianist who played the song.
Consistent with previous data, the effects of musical priming were more pronounced among women, who rated the faces as more attractive after hearing music. Moreover, after seeing the face of the musician playing the song they were listening to, they became significantly more desirable as well. Men who listened to the music rated women as more desirable for dating, but they weren’t attracted to the musical talent in the same way — i.e., whether or not women played the piano didn’t make a difference to them.
Either way, both Penny Lane and Darwin were right: Music is as much the sweet sound of attraction as it is a creative expression.