Summary of Excerpt
The assigned article by Bullard (2014) discusses sex appeal by explaining the issues and dynamics surrounding it. The author argues that most people struggle with sexual attractiveness, oblivious of the fact that the solution lies within them. He says that if people find themselves to be attractive, or have a high sex appeal, other people are bound to perceive them the same way (Bullard, 2014). Similarly, if they often despise themselves, or do not believe they are attractive; other people would not see them as sexually appealing as well. At the core of Bullard’s (2014) argument is the power of self-awareness and self-belief.
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Although Bullard (2014) clarifies that there is nothing wrong with being desired by the opposite sex, often, how people experience others is based on how they perceive themselves. Based on this fact, the author proposes six practical ways that people could use to improve their sex appeal and feel better about themselves. The first way is dressing up for oneself. The second strategy Bullard (2014) proposes is to eat a decadent meal slowly and enjoy it because eating could be a sensual and enjoyable experience. In fact, he says that if people take the time to appreciate the colour, flavour, and smell of food, they are likely to find that their eating experience could be erotic (Bullard, 2014). He also proposes a third way of feeling sexy which anchors on taking a stroll for no apparent reason. Here, Bullard (2014) believes there is a natural grace and sensuality associated with feeling the movements of the body, which help to improve sex appeal. At the same time, he proposes self-seduction as another strategy of feeling sexy. Often, people create a mood to share it with another person; however, he suggests that they should do the same for themselves. The fifth strategy proposed by Bullard (2014) to boost sex appeal is having a dance party. He suggests that people should feel free to dance by themselves because it would make them comfortable in their bodies and less self-conscious, thereby improving their sex appeal. Lastly, the author says that loving one’s body is also a powerful way to increase sex appeal.
The analysed excerpt outlines the above-mentioned arguments because sex appeal is often a complex and misunderstood issue. The evidence of Bullard’s (2014) argument is mostly confined to literature on sex and sexuality in psychology. Similarly, the evidence presented in the paper connects with information contained in sex therapy exercises and is appropriate for people who are struggling with the problem of sex appeal. Generally, it touches on how different people understand sexuality. The advice provided in the excerpt also seeks to empower people who may be struggling with issues of sex appeal. Indeed, it is intended to enhance and reinforce sex appeal among people and appears to cut across socio-cultural boundaries because it is general and could apply to different types of genders and to different groups of people (Carothers & Reis, 2012). However, merely based on the contents of the excerpt, the advices proposed by the author do not seem to be evidence-based. Nonetheless, they are associated with the psychology of human sexual attractiveness.
Evidence from researchers who advocate for positive psychology seems to support the advice put forward by Bullard (2014) because they focus on qualitative personal growth. They argue that training people to embrace new personal thoughts, patterns and feelings about different aspects of their sexuality could yield positive outcomes in their personal growth journeys (Hewson, 2015). Those who have applied the same philosophy in human sexuality support it (Erden, 2015). Hewson (2015) affirms this school of thought by saying that people’s ability to engage in verbal and mental self-directed conversation is a useful tool for promoting self-growth. At the core of the strategy is empowerment and self-promotion conditioning that helps create this positive effect. The use of second person pronouns in self-talk has yielded positive results in self-help psychology as well, thereby demonstrating the power of positive psychology in improving sex appeal (Turner, 2015). Based on this analysis, the advice provided in the first excerpt could prove to be useful, especially because positive psychology reveals that sex appeal could be a learned experience.
The advice contained in excerpt one is also interesting because it contradicts what many psychologists have written about self-help exercises. The general assumption in self-help psychology is that self-help programs use the information available in the public domain, or support groups to induce change (Mahendran, 2015). Steve Salerno is one of the most notable critics of the self-help movement because he says that the strategy is not only ineffective, but also harmful to the associated people (Hofmann and Nordgren, 2016). One of his arguments is that many of those people involved in self-help exercises are repeat clients who have had relative success, or failure, in employing the strategy in their lives. If we use his argument to analyse the advice given in excerpt one, we find that the author believes the solutions provided to improve sex appeal are imagined or idealized.
A certain school of thought in psychology also opposes the view that both genders could use self-help strategies to improve their sex appeal. This ideology is promoted by researchers such as Binik and Hall (2014) who argue that males are more likely to respond to self-help strategies of improving their sex appeal through methods that do not involve an alteration of appearance. Comparatively, they say that women are more inclined to improve their sex appeal through strategies that involve alterations to their physical appearances (Binik and Hall, 2014). This line of reasoning stems from traditional masculine ideologies, which presuppose that the improvement of sex appeal through alterations to physical appearance is a feminine thing (Barker, 2015). Comparatively, proponents of the same school of thought argue that male sexuality could be best enhanced through achievement, status, experience and such like attributes (Bowes- Catton, 2015). Although there is a cross-section of researchers who argue that physical appearance is still an important consideration for most men, in the context of the improvement of sex appeal, gender discrepancies in the understanding of sex appeal also exist.
If we use the above argument to evaluate the advice given by Bullard (2014) in excerpt one, we deduce that the recommendations only apply to men, or would work better with men. Indeed, they mostly focus on self-help strategies that are without physical alterations to the human body. In other words, they focus on improving people’s “perceptions” of sex appeal. Taking walks, wearing good clothes, seducing oneself to create a romantic mood and eating a decent meal slowly are some recommendations outlined by Bullard (2014), which in the perspective of Binik and Hall (2014) would best apply to men. Therefore, women’s sex appeal is more linked to bodily changes, such as the percentage of fat in the body. Comparatively, the sex appeal of men could be linked to issues that solely focus on their masculinity. One criticism of this school of thought is the fact that it was mostly based on research, which focused on young adults who may be intensely motivated by physical factors, as a significant source of their sex appeal (Hardman, 2015).
Researchers who have investigated sexual activity between men and women have further highlighted the above point by saying that both genders respond to different stimuli (Byford, 2015). For example, men were more concerned about their performance, as opposed to physical appearance during sex. Comparatively, women are more concerned about their physical appearance compared to any other factor during sex (Byford, 2015). However, studies that have investigated this issue in detail say that concerns about sexual performance and body image are equal in frequency among women (Binik & Hall, 2014).
The findings of excerpt one also seems to contradict the methodology used by most sex therapists to improve people’s sex appeal because most sex appeal strategies outlined by this group of professionals are evolution-based (Binik and Hall, 2014). For example, many sex therapists have recommended to their patients that they should boost their sex appeal through the improvement of their smell, voice, financial stability and similar factors (Hofmann and Nordgren, 2016). The findings outlined in the first excerpt do not focus on such attributes as the basis for the improvement of sex appeal. In fact, they do not mention even one evolutionary factor as a relevant tool for the improvement of sex appeal. Instead, they focus on highlighting psychosocial factors as the basis for doing so. This approach is not often used in sex therapy and thus contradicts the methodology used by practitioners in the field.
Although there are different views regarding self-help as a strategy to improve sex appeal, the criticisms levelled against the practice are narrowly focused on undermining the strategy because of biological influences of sex appeal, as explained through the evolutionary perspective (Hofmann and Nordgren, 2016). The same criticisms fail to recognize that sex appeal is a multifaceted thing. In other words, the concept is a blend of many issues, including how people behave, how they speak, and how they carry themselves in public. This fact is known in some psychology circles as the “Halo effect” (Hofmann and Nordgren, 2016). The self-help strategy addresses these issues. The same is true for the advice given in the first excerpt because it teaches people how to improve non-biological factors associated with sex appeal. Feeling great about oneself would definitely improve a person’s mood and self-esteem, thereby, possibly, leading them to be perceived much more favourably than if they never “worked on” themselves. Based on this reasoning, we find that the criticisms levelled against self-help strategies, as a way of improving sex appeal, are misplaced, at least in the context of the information presented by Bullard (2014).
Based on the above-mentioned criticisms and support for self-help strategies to improve sex appeal, I believe that the findings outlined in excerpt one only represent a small part of what people could do to improve their sexual attraction. However, the focus on other people, as part of the equation to boost sexual attraction, is problematic because the findings presented by the article mean that it takes two sets of people to complete the cycle of sexual attraction. Although Bullard (2014) shows what one person could do to improve his or her sexuality, it requires the input of another person to affirm the sex appeal. There is no guarantee that the cycle will always be complete. Another problem that emerges from the findings is the sustainability of the sex appeal, as described by Hewson, Ramsden and Turner (2015).
All the recommendations suggested by the author are based on a “feeling,” which may vary, depending on one’s mood, or one’s sense of confidence. The lack of a group effort to improve sex appeal also emerges as another weakness because the suggestions proposed only involve one person. There is no support group to cement the changes outlined by the researcher. Therefore, it is easier for a person to “fall off the wagon,” as opposed to a contrary situation where there is a support group to make sure there are no drawbacks in the change process. This finding is supported by researchers such as Dewey (2012) and Wager (2015) who have demonstrated the same fact through the recovery of alcoholics within self-help groups. The creation of alcohol anonymous groups and even the requirement for recovering addicts to have a sponsor are some measures outlined by proponents of the self-help strategy to prevent addicts from relapsing. There is no such control mechanism in the self-help strategy proposed by Bullard (2014). Instead, the findings give a lot of power to individuals to change their thinking by themselves. Albeit partially effective, such a strategy lacks sustainability, in the sense that it is easy for people to digress on their gains.
Barker. M. J. (2015) ‘Conflict in Close Relationships’, in Turner, J. Hewson, C. Mahendran, K. and Stevens, P. (eds) Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary (Book 1), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 12-24.
Binik, Y. and Hall, K. (2014) Principles and Practice of Sex Therapy, London, Guilford Publications (5th edn).
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