Smile more if you’re femaleasife/Shutterstock
Much of the science of attraction is rooted in biology—and who we think would make a good mate to reproduce with. So, how to be more attractive is tapping into what the opposite sex (if you’re heterosexual) is looking for. Smiling in women was shown in a University of British Columbia study to be more attractive than other expressions; but the same didn’t hold true for men. “People typically associate expressions of happiness with femininity,” says Alec Beall, PhD, a UBC psychologist and one of the authors of the study. “This gender normative inconsistency could be responsible for the relative unattractiveness of male happiness.” Smiling makes women look friendly and “sexually receptive” (in other words, more interested in having sex). “Evolutionarily, men have been programmed to seek out women who will be receptive to their advances,” Dr. Beall says. And that’s a good thing, because sex is important to our health and longevity. Here are some other science-backed reasons to smile more.
Wear redMax kegfire/Shutterstock
What are some associations we have with the color red? Passion, roses, heat, and…sex. For this very reason, science has shown that wearing red is one way how to look more attractive. “This red-attractiveness link is partially explained by men’s perceptions of implied sexual receptivity among women wearing reddish garb,” Dr. Beall says. “In 2013, my colleagues and I even noted this effect among a small-scale society in Burkina Faso, West Africa, suggesting that men’s attraction to red is a cultural universal.” So no matter where you’re living, if you’re looking for love, red should be your go-to color. And you might even be doing this subconsciously—Dr. Beall says studies have shown women tend to wear red and pink when they are biologically more sexually receptive, like during ovulation. Read more about your brain on ovulation.
Don’t play hard to getUber Images/Shutterstock
Women might think they appear more attractive if they keep their partner guessing as to how they really feel—and some research does support this (one study from China found that playing hard to get kept men’s interest only after they had chosen a prospective partner). But a more recent study from Germany suggests that people are more likely to rate others as attractive if they can easily understand the emotions they’re displaying. The reason for this is in the brain: How well the study participants could decode the other’s “neural vocabulary.” “Partners must understand and continuously update information about their partner’s current intentions and motivation, anticipate the other’s behavior, and adapt their own behavior accordingly,” study author Silke Anders, a neuroscientist at the University of Lübeck, told Time. “Understanding and personal attraction seem to depend on both the sender’s brain and the perceiver’s brain, and on how well they match.” A dating expert gives eight ways to meet and attract new people.