The science of sexuality has moved out of the candle-lit bedroom and into the laboratory. (See? Science can be fun!) Recent research was aimed at revealing "the magnitude of erotic sensations from various body parts." The results ended up being a little predictable, a little unexpected, and a lot of sexy.
The Guardian reports on the work of researchers in South Africa and the United Kingdom, who published an article in the journal Cortex. They surveyed 800 men and women, asking them to rate 41 different body parts for their erogenous capabilities.
The sexiest body parts were a no-brainer: genitalia, lips, ears, and inner thighs. Surprisingly, shoulder blades ranked as one of the more pleasurable spots for both men and women.
But the real interest came in the lowest-ranked body parts. Knee caps and feet both received a zero ranking on the sexy scale. Now, as most of us are initiating a face-palm and saying "Well, duh!" as we think about knobbly knees and fragrant feet, consider this: For many years, scientists have thought that feet were one of the most erogenous zones of the body. It's believed that the area of the brain that handles nerve impulses from the feet is right next door to the processing center for genitalia sensations. So our feet ought to be just one exit down on the Highway to Heaven, at least in terms of brain signals.
Not so, the survey found. Feet were a sexual flop for most of the survey respondents. Study authors note that while foot fetishes (such as shoe obsession, foot massaging, etc.) may be common, there appears to be a big difference between a fetish and an erogenous zone.
Another startling find was that men and women are very similar in their ranking of erotic body parts. Oh, there were a few differences (men often found hands and the back of the legs very erotic, while women ranked them lower), but overall the scientists were surprised to find "remarkable levels of correlation" between the sexes. This goes against the traditional belief that women are loaded with erogenous zones and men only have one obvious hot spot.
Study authors were also amazed to discover that the erotic rankings held steady no matter what a person's age, socioeconomic status, cultural background, or sexual orientation. Human beings all seem to share common erogenous zones, the scientists conclude. This suggests that in most cases, our sexual proclivities are hard-wired, not based on ethnicity or experience.
So, next time you're looking for a little nookie, you might want to skip the toe-nibbling and opt instead for some shoulder blade-action. And you can thank science for this admirable quest to quantify sexiness. Not only does research tell you which spots to twiddle, but also the optimal speed at which to stroke human skin for maximum pleasure. It's 5 cm per second, by the way, just in case you're hoping to do a little experimentation of your own
By Nicole Stevens