While you may never be able to match the magnetism that Lenny Kravitz has with women, there is one hint you can take from the musician—playing guitar boosts your sex appeal. Even science says the cliché is correct.
According to a study published in Psychology of Music, a woman is more likely to give her number to a guy carrying a guitar case than a man holding a gym bag. For the experiment, an attractive man approached 300 women and after complimenting them, asked for their phone numbers. He did this in three different scenarios: holding a guitar case, toting a sports bag, or not carrying anything at all. Over a third of the women gave their digits when the guy was carrying the guitar case, 14 percent responded positively when he was empty handed, and only 9 percent shared their number when a gym bag was in sight.
What gives? Women associate musical talent with a genetic advantage and intellectual ability. Plus, there’s the coolness and fun factor. “Music induces a positive effect, and this positive effect primes receptivity to a courtship request,” says Nicolas Guéguen, study author and researcher at the University of South Brittany in France.
Another study, published in Letters on Evolutionary Behavioral Science, showed that women are more receptive to a Facebook profile picture that shows a man with a musical instrument. Researchers sent out a friend request to 100 single women with a note, “Hey, what’s up? I like your photo.” The only difference was that the sender’s own profile picture either included a guitar or didn’t. At the end of the study, 28 percent of women responded positively to the apparent guitar player, yet only 10 percent of women responded positively to the guy sans guitar.
In short, priming a female with the notion that you’re a musician is sort of like getting your foot in the door. It’s similar to other tactics that will soften her up, like gently touching her forearm as you flirt. Researchers even have a name for it: sexual selection theory of music. Sure, it sounds like something we made up, but the theory suggests that music serves as a signal in mate selection.
But don’t despair if your only talent is strumming an air guitar. Turns out the real deal is not all that hard to learn. “With a guitar you just need to learn a few chords and you’ll be able to play a lot of basic songs,” says Elena Ruehr, professor of music at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Pretty much anyone can learn with a few lessons and some practice. It’s probably one of the easiest instruments to pick up since it has more to do with finger dexterity than your ability to carry a tune.” You should be able to pluck a few Jack Johnson melodies after three to six months, as long as you practice 20 to 30 minutes each day. “It’s a bit like weight training,” Ruehr adds. “You need to build muscle memory. Lifting a bit every day is way more productive than going to the gym once a week for three hours.”
You can find a basic guitar for around $150 to $200. Ruehr recommends starting with a Yamaha. Bring it to the beach and let the wooing begin.
For a lower-effort approach that she’ll still appreciate, take her to one of MF’s Top 10 Summer Music Festivals of 2013.