10 Science-Backed Reasons for Sexual Attraction
Just how much science is behind the swooning?
When you’re describing how good-looking someone is, chances are you don’t say, “She/he is so symmetrical!” But multiple studies have revealed that a person’s “symmetry”—basically, how closely both sides of their face/body match—plays a big part in how attractive we find them. Of course, no one is perfectly symmetrical, because biology isn’t perfect. But the studies showed that, the lower a person’s oxidative stress levels, the higher their symmetry. Oxidative stress refers to imbalance in the body’s level of free radicals.
According to The Independent, “men who were rated as attractive by the women had significantly lower levels of oxidative stress.” Ten measurements were taken of the men to determine their symmetry—things as specific as ear height and finger length. Then they were tested and quizzed for indicators of oxidative stress. “Finally, a group of women were asked to rate images of the men’s bodies and faces for physical attractiveness. Men with more symmetrical bodies had lower levels and were rated as more attractive.” Make sure you know these 12 things sex therapists won’t tell you.
The perfect body mass indexAfrica-Studio/Shutterstock
Your body mass index (BMI) refers to the relationship between your height and your weight. Calculate your BMI here to learn more about BMIs. The Independent reported that “a ratio of 20.85 has been found to be most attractive in women, because, say researchers, it is seen by men as a sign of good health and good reproductive potential.” Another study also assessed another body ratio, the waist-to-hip ratio. “In general, a range of 0.67 to 1.18 in females is attractive to men,” reports LiveScience. What does this mean? That you should love your curves—for reasons more than just attractiveness! According to The Independent, “one University of California study showed that women with larger hips perform better in intelligence tests, as do their children.” Here are the sex myths that everyone thinks are true but needs to ignore.
Long legs in women, shorter in menBatkova-Elena/Shutterstock
Oddly, leg lengths were perceived differently for men and women. “Long legs are preferred in women, while men with legs the same length as the torso are preferred by women,” reports The Independent. As for why this is, shorter legs in men “[make] them look more muscular.” Women also find broad shoulders attractive in men.
It’s no secret that women tend to be attracted to men with strong jawlines, but the reason behind it is a little less well-known. LiveScience explains how the hormones estrogen and testosterone are responsible for bone growth in the faces of women and men, respectively. If women have smaller brows and chins and more prominent eyes, they are seen as more fertile. The same goes for men with more prominent jaws and brows. (Try one of these nine tricks to improve your sex life in just one day!)
Facial scars (or lack thereof)schankz/Shutterstock
According to The Independent, “facial scars in men are seen as attractive, as long as they are the right kind of scar. A facial scar, preferably one that looks like it was inflicted in anger, increases the attractiveness of a man for a short-term relationship.” Turns out there are pros and cons to this, though. The article goes on to say that, for long-term relationships, scars might not be as much of a draw: “men without scars…could be seen as more caring and therefore more suitable for long-term relationships.”
A “sexy” voiceMintybear/Shutterstock
Again, this one’s all about the hormones. A lower voice in men is associated with more testosterone, while a higher voice in women is seen as more stereotypically “feminine.” However, it’s not just about pitch. Research has found that breathiness is seen as attractive in both males and females, while, surprisingly, women found monotone voices attractive in men. Just as surprisingly, Psychology Today reports that, even if you don’t see a person, you can become strongly attracted to them from just their voice. In fact, “if you only hear someone’s voice, the effects of vocal attractiveness will be more pronounced than if you meet in person and experience both vocal and visual information simultaneously.” Besides a sexy voice, here are 31 more tricks that are proven to give your sex drive a boost.
Your genetics matchMintybear/Shutterstock
Ever heard that married couples look alike? This common joke might have a basis in truth. In the past, people overwhelmingly married people of a common ancestry, and that trend has had lasting effects. We’re drawn to things that are familiar to us, because they make us feel more comfortable. We also view similarity as beneficial for potential children. “If these genes evolved to work in combination, then you don’t want to break that up too much for your offspring,” psychologist J. Philippe Rushton explained to LiveScience.
It’s not just about looks—our tendency to be drawn to attractive personalities has a basis in science as well. Selflessness, The Independent claims, is especially important. Research has found that altruistic behavior has been important to us throughout our evolution as a species: “it was one of the qualities our ancestors looked for in a mate.” Dr. Tim Phillips tells The Independent, “it would have been important for our ancestors to choose mates both willing and able to be good, long-term parents. Displays of altruism could well have provided accurate clues to this.” (Make sure you know these 25 sex mistakes you never realized you were making until now and how to fix them.)
This might seem like a no-brainer, but there’s plenty of science behind why people who seem “boring” are turn-offs. Our brains have short attention spans, so if we’re bored by something—or someone—we’ll move on. On the other hand, if a person stands out from the crowd, they’ll attract, and keep, our attention.
In a study at Cornell University, a group of people rated their ideal traits for long-term partners, and the overwhelming winner was fidelity. Faithfulness and trustworthiness are very important to both men and women. “Good parenting, devotion, and sexual fidelity—that’s what people say they’re looking for in a long-term relationship,” says Stephen Emlen, who was in charge of the study. And for couples who want to grow old together, the advice? Have more sex. Having sex at least once a week has been shown to increase longevity.
Sources: The Independent; LiveScience; Psychology Today