If you’ve ever wondered why you have a type, or maybe why you’ve never been interested in dating at all, these psychological facts about attraction may surprise you. The science behind human attraction is a complex phenomenon researchers from various fields continue to ponder to this day.
Patterns continue to emerge around the ways in which attraction works. With the impact of cultural norms, beauty standards, and advances in neuroscience, this post explains some of the psychology behind it all.
Psst: While you’re at it, check out these psychological facts about male attraction for added insight into this topic.
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27 Psychological Facts About Attraction
If you’re ready to learn more about why you’re drawn to that particular person or interested in the mechanics of social relationships, continue reading.
1. There Are Different Types of Attraction
Sexual and romantic attraction aren’t the only driving forces behind why you might be interested in someone. While mainly thought about in the context of romantic partnerships, attraction comes in many forms.
The other common types of attraction include emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and physical. Examples include a desire for touch, having an affinity for someone’s personality, admiring someone’s intelligence, or simply loving someone’s sense of style.
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2. Confidence and Competence are Attractive
People are more likely to become interested in someone who appears to have their life together, is competent, and has a strong sense of self. A high self-esteem also tends to foster quality relationships and greater life satisfaction.
Women especially find these qualities appealing in men as it suggests they’ll be competent in a long-term relationship.
Next Read: Psychological facts about female attraction
3. Conventionally Attractive People and the “Halo Effect”
The Halo Effect is a cognitive bias that impairs the judgment others have on conventionally attractive people. The “more” attractive person is perceived to be friendlier and smarter and is often treated better by the people around them.
However, this conception is based solely on the person’s appearance and not their actual qualities.
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4. Red Is Considered the Most “Attractive” Color
If you’re on a date and the guy you’re with can’t stop staring at your red nail polish, there’s a reason for that. Men and women are perceived as more attractive and are more attracted to their date if they’re wearing red. The warmth and eye-catching nature of the color make the person wearing it seem more intriguing.
5. Beauty Standards Play a Big Role
Beauty standards continue to change every decade or so, with different aesthetic expectations placed on us with each cultural shift. People who fit those societal standards are perceived as very attractive and hold the highest social currency, or what Gen Z calls “pretty privilege” today.
6. Smiling Makes You More Attractive
A study from the National Institute of Health on perceived smile attractiveness shows that a good smile goes a long way in how others perceive you. It’s noted that women who smile more often are found to be more appealing to men. However, women think men are more attractive when they smile less.
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7. Attachment Styles Affect Who You Fall For
Attachment styles are developed during childhood and roughly branch into three categories: secure, anxious, and avoidant.
If you grew up in a secure environment, you’re more likely to be attracted to and be in a relationship with a stable partner. However, those with anxious or avoidant attachments may gravitate toward turbulent relationships that mimic those they grew up in.
8. Smell Is an Important Factor in Attraction
How someone smells can affect whether you perceive them as attractive or not. There is a way in which your immune system uses your sense of smell to determine whether someone will be compatible with you.
That function is the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which determines which parts of your body are yours and foreign bodies. Due to evolution, it sniffs out if someone’s immune system differs from your own — and if it is, you’re more likely to be satisfied with the relationship.
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9. Attraction Changes as You Age
It shouldn’t be surprising that as you grow older and establish yourself, your priorities around attraction will change. Just as sexuality is fluid, so is attraction. What you wanted in a partner 10 years ago may have changed today.
This is entirely normal; as people age, they find people in their age bracket more appealing and looks become less important compared to stability or emotional connection, for example.
10. Non-Verbal Cues Make All the Difference
Body language is very telling of someone’s interest in you. Learning how to read non-verbal cues will help you figure out if a person is attracted to you or not.
For example, If they hold eye contact with you and have an open posture (no crossed arms or legs), chances are they’re into you. The same can be said if they touch your hand or arm occasionally, smile a lot, or nod along as you speak.
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11. The Influence of Humor
People with a good sense of humor tend to be more attractive to others for a few reasons. Funny people are generally great with social relationships and can read between the lines in social interactions. They can also use their intelligence to crack jokes, tend to be more witty, and can take criticism and make fun partners in relationships.
12. The Hard-to-Get Phenomenon
Everyone has had a moment where they’ve been attracted to someone who plays hard-to-get or, in more psychological terms, is avoidant.
Certain people enjoy chasing or being interested in people they perceive to be less available or harder to obtain. However, this isn’t the healthiest strategy to find a partner, but it does work in the short term, especially on men.
13. The Proximity Effect
If you’re around someone long enough, it’s possible you could become attracted to them. At least, that’s what the proximity effect is all about.
The more time people spend together, the more likely they are to form bonds or become attracted to one another. So it makes sense why nearly everyone has an office crush these days.
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14. Similarity Attraction Theory – When Like Meets Like
This theory suggests that people are attracted to others who are more similar to them than different. Have you seen couples that dress similarly, have the same hair color, or even have the same jobs?
Similarity Attraction Theory poses that people feel a certain familiarity with love interests that either look similar to them, share the same interests and values, or work in the same career.
15. Perceived Health Is a Big Deal
As shallow as it may seem, healthier-looking people or visibly fit people are deemed more suitable mates. This stems from an evolutionary and biological standpoint. Physically attractive people are considered better reproductive partners due to strong genetic markers like facial symmetry, good proportions, and low body fat.
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16. Some People Don’t Feel Sexual or Romantic Attraction at All
Asexuality is broadly defined as the lack of sexual attraction. However, asexuality falls on a spectrum and is a bit more complicated than that. Asexual people can feel romantic, aesthetic, platonic, and emotional attraction and be interested in a romantic relationship, but most don’t desire sex at all.
17. Reciprocity Can Increase Attraction
Have you ever started liking someone only after they’ve shown interest in you or told you they liked you? Well, that phenomenon is called reciprocal attraction. Reciprocity often fosters respect, mutual attraction, warmth, and intimacy and can create a very healthy dynamic in a relationship.
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18. Blushing Is a Good Thing
Although you might feel embarrassed or flustered when you blush around your crush, it’s actually working in your favor. As you blush, blood rushes to your face, making your cheeks and lips appear more pink.
These visual cues make you seem interested, which is great if the person you’re going out with feels the same way.
19. There Is a Fine Line Between Fear and Attraction
Just like nervousness and excitement elicit the same nervous system processes, you can mistake fear for attraction similarly. This is called the misattribution of arousal, and it basically means that you confuse the physiological responses of fear with attraction.
The sweaty palms, flushed cheeks, and spiked heart rate you get on a date don’t necessarily mean you have a crush. Discerning the two emotions can be difficult, especially for people who grew up in strained environments.
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20. Some People Are More Attracted to Status and Resources
You might know a person or two who simply gush over wealthy celebrities, or perhaps you know someone who’ll only date people with a certain income. These people are primarily attracted to anyone with more status or resources than them and will rather engage in a relationship for those things over love or intimacy.
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21. Facial Symmetry Makes You More Appealing
Just like fitting the standard of beauty, facial symmetry is arguably the most important aspect of determining beauty. You might be surprised to find out that this attraction is rooted in biology. Symmetry is an indicator of the genetic quality of a person. Subconsciously, we deem symmetry to be an indicator of good development in the womb and overall health.
22. Your Culture Can Affect Who You’re Attracted to
What you consider attractive in your culture could be seen as unattractive in others. Every country has different beauty standards, ideals, and expectations that people adopt.
More negative beliefs also exist within any society. Racism, homophobia, as well as religious doctrines can all affect your preferences for potential partners.
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23. Eye Contact Keeps Them Interested
Prolonged eye contact (not in a creepy way) with your date can foster intimacy and vulnerability. It’s also a surefire way to form a bond and keep them interested in you. Mutual eye contact has been linked to increased positive feelings, attraction, and closeness between couples.
Psst: These psychological facts about eyes will tell you more about how important holding eye contact can be.
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24. The Sound of Your Voice Can Make You More (or Less) Likable
Back to biology, women find men with deeper voices more attractive during ovulation, as this has been linked to producing healthier children. Men prefer women with higher-pitched voices as they consider them more feminine. Interestingly, regardless of gender, people in general find huskier voices attractive as well.
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25. Mirroring Can Be a Sign They Like You
Just like the non-verbal cues, mirroring is another type of body language that shows someone is attracted to you. If they’re unconsciously mimicking your movements and posture or even start to adopt the way you speak, these are clear signs they’re interested in you.
What happens when people mirror each other is called limbic synchrony, where our brains literally get us in sync with our partner’s movements.
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26. Kind People Are More Attractive
If someone has an altruistic character and seems to treat the people around them with kindness genuinely, this can be a very attractive quality in a partner. In fact, kind people are considered better looking for that fact alone, even if they’re average in appearance.
27. At the End of the Day, Attraction Is an Individual Thing
Everyone will experience attraction differently, and many factors surrounding attraction aren’t based on appearance alone. Biology, sexuality, and cultural differences all impact how you feel attraction towards others.
Some people are satisfied with fulfilling emotional and intellectual attraction above all else, while many need to feel a combination of attraction types with their partner.