They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but is it really? What is pretty? Who decides whether someone is attractive or not? Why do we think someone is really cute but their friend is just average? There are many social factors that play into who we think is beautiful, but the majority of what attracts us to other people is deeply imbedded in our subconscious psyche. Here are 23 psychological facts about why you feel the way you do.
1. Parents’ age
Have an old dad? Sorry, but you’re prone to be more attractive to older men with more facial creases and, chances are, less hair. How old your parents were plays a huge part in who you find attractive as an adult. So, the younger your parents were when you were born, the more likely you will be to have an attraction to the younger generation.
Symmetry in facial and body features is a huge determining factor in perceived level of attraction, tested of over a multitude of cultures worldwide. Symmetry means beauty and it’s easy to understand why. Afterall, there’s really no other sight quite as lovely as two identical big, beautiful eyes staring back at you, now is there?
3. Oedipus Complex
Ok, ok, we’ve all heard it before. But is it really true? The answer, however creepily you want to interpret it, is yes. We are indeed attracted to people who remind us of our parents. For example, if your mom has blond hair and blue eyes, chances are good you’ll end up with a girl just like it. Or if your dad was tall and thin, you’ll probably be interested in guys who remind you of him. I know it’s weird. Best just to deal with it.
4. Face Ratio
There is a magical face ratio number that dictates who will be beautiful and who will fail. For example, the distance between your eyes and mouth should be about 36% of the length of your face. Babe math! I guess that’s how plastic surgeons make so much money.
5. You are what you wear
Humans are attracted to certain colours more than others. Cold, neutral tones have a calming effect while bright colours like orange and red stimulate attraction in many an innocent onlooker. Next time you want to spice your night up, throw on something tight and something red.
6. Smells matter
They say smell is the strongest sense linked to memory. So, needless to say, how you smell is incredibly important. Not to mention what you eat, where you work, and how often you bathe can be subconsciously absorbed by the nose. Different people are attracted to different smells, like dairy, curry, sweat, or smoke.
7. Voice Pitch
Women tend to raise their voice pitch when they are attracted to another person. This is an involuntary indication that they are interested in mating. So, this raise in pitch is perceived as attractive to others around them. In studies, women with higher voices in general are thought to be more desirable than those with lower voices.
How hungry you are can determine who you find attractive. When your stomach is growling, you tend to find others attractive who are larger in size, with more fat on their bodies. This is thought to be a genetic pull toward those with more resources and access to food. So the next time you find yourself oddly attracted to the chubby guy two doors down, check and see if it’s your brain or your belly that’s in charge.
9. That time of the month
Women have higher drives when they ovulate, just as men are more attracted to women who are ovulating. This is because the chance of getting pregnant during this time of the month is much greater than at any other period. In this case, timing really is everything.
10. The pill
Hormone-altering medication like the birth control pill can also change who you find attractive. Studies have shown that women who are on the pill are less likely to choose a mate with masculine facial features than those who use natural birth control methods. It makes sense: women who have chosen not to alter their estrogen are drawn to traditionally rugged, masculine partners.
Marilyn Monroe’s hourglass figure is still famous for a reason: measurements play a big part in how attractive we find women. The chest-waist-hip ratio is perfect for bearing children, which is what we are all subconsciously programmed to desire. As well being an indication of productive prime, this type of figure also shows a strong level of health and nutrition, perfect for making babies.
13. Beards, beards, beards
Beards are back and it’s good news for everybody. It’s amazing what a little bit of scruff can do to transform a boy into a man and studies show this is a natural psychological phenomenon. Medium-sized beards are perceived as the most attractive while full-grown beard wearers are thought to be better husbands and fathers. Guys, want to meet someone? Grow a beard.
We smile when we’re happy. Humans are attracted to happy people. So, smiling will inevitably make you more attractive, right? Wrong. Research has shown that men are definitely attracted to women who smile, but women are attracted to more serious, argumentative, aggressive men.
15. Displaying Pride
Even though it seems like an old-fashioned school of thought to belong to, women are still attracted to men who display signs of pride and authority. Think alpha male chimpanzees. Or gorillas. You know, the ones who beat their fists on their chests while calling out to their predators. Women are still into it, and it doesn’t look like this psychological attraction is going anywhere fast.
16. Attractive babies get more attention
Studies have shown that good-looking babies and children get more attention from their parents than their uglier counterparts. Attractive children receive more love, care, and positive reinforcement just because they’re cute. Teachers, nurses, and doctors are also inclined to treat prettier babies better than those they consider less attractive.
Believe it or not, genes play a large part in who you find attractive. We are more likely to be interested in someone who has a close genetic make up to us. Wait – that doesn’t mean you’re destined to mate with your brother or first cousin! We are subconsciously programmed to desire the continuation of our family lineage. Finding a partner of a similar culture, race, and religion makes complete sense in this respect, and the closer they are to your own culture, the more likely it is that they have similar genes.
18. Babes get better jobs
In interviews, more beautiful people are almost always more likely to get the job. Unless, of course, it’s an attractive woman interviewing for a job traditionally performed by a man. In this case, good-looking women are unconsciously thought to be less capable of meeting the demands of the job. So, you should dress up for more effeminate jobs and dress down for those usually given to men.
19. Longs legs, big eyes
Why do women wear high heels, eyeliner, and mascara? To give off the effect of having longer legs and bigger eyes. Theses are both physical traits of younger people and are therefore linked to youth and fertility. We are naturally inclined to desire the most reproductively successful mate so it’s easy to understand why we’re drawn to these characteristics.
20. Youth wins, every time
Regardless of culture, human beings will always find younger people more attractive than older people. Even in cultures that highly value the knowledge and wisdom that comes with age, young men and women are still deemed more suitable mates. Again, this comes from out internal biological clocks that are pressuring us to meet somebody and make some babies.
21. Make-up masks the flaws
So, if we’re so attracted to the perfect face and body, why do unattractive people still exist? Why haven’t we bred them out of the system yet? The reason is simple: we’ve developed ways to mask those flaws. Clothes can hid physical flaws, shoes can correct limps and accentuate our height, and make-up can hide a whole list of ailments. We use these things to make our body look more symmetrical and therefore more beautiful.
Researchers have shown that men are more attracted and concerned with the weight of a woman than women are concerned with the weight of a man. Though men tend to find a whole range of body types attractive, a woman who is more than 20 pounds overweight is less likely to be seen as desirable. So that extra five pounds really doesn’t make a difference, unless it tips the scales into the obese section of the BMI chart.
Just as men are about how much their potential partner weighs, women care about how tall men are. Taller men are seen as more attractive, perhaps because of the way they make a woman feel protected. Men who are just one or two inches shorter than normal have a much harder time finding a mate and taller men have shown to have more reproductive success.