Let’s be honest: Looks count. When you see that certain mix of eyes, cheekbones, hair, and je ne sais quoi from across the room, you’re drawn in. While there are plenty of tricks to making oneself more physically desirable, new research suggests that appearance is just window dressing when it comes to finding someone attractive. Beauty—or true appeal—is more than skin deep.
In a recent mini review, published in Frontiers in Psychology, Agata Groyecka, researcher at the University of Wroclaw in Poland, looked at the way attractiveness is perceived and how we determine it. Along with her collaborators, she analyzed 30 years worth of research on attraction. Groyecka’s review suggests that what you smell and what you hear may play a major role in who you pursue. “Recently, most reviews have focused on visual attractiveness—for example, face or body attractiveness,” explains Groyecka in a press release from ScienceDaily. “However, literature about other senses and their role in social relations has grown rapidly and should not be ignored. Perceiving others through all three channels gives a more reliable and broader variety of information about them.” For example, she found that while we are visually attracted to people with similar genotypes, once we get close with that special someone, we tend to prefer the odor of a mate with a dissimilar genetic background. The combination of the two preferences could help steer us to complementary genetic mates.
The takeaway is that the tone of someone’s voice and even their scent can also make an impression on you when you first meet them—even if you don’t realize it. (And there are plenty of other secrets to attraction.) Sure, an irritating voice or an “off” odor might turn you away—but those very things could be catnip to your friend.