Skip to main content

Check Out These 8 Facts About the Science Behind Attraction

4 min read

By Jeff Hayward

You see someone on the street that turns your head and you give them a second look… why? There are a lot of forces at play about which people our brains find attractive, and it’s not always because of mainstream beauty.

Attraction can work in many ways: it can be from a glance (love at first sight, at some call it) or it can develop with an unlikely person over the course of time. Here are eight interesting things behind the science of attraction…

1. Scent Plays a Big Role

We as humans have five senses (or is it six?) In any case, there’s more to attraction than visual cues, according to

The source cites a study from the early 1990’s that shows women in particular become interested in men whose MHC compositions differ from their own (some sources suggest this is to avoid inbreeding). MHC stands for major histocompatibility complex, which is a set of molecules that control the nervous system. Meanwhile, men tend to gravitate towards the scent of women with more MHC than them.

2. Your Pets Make You Sexier

Business Insider says that guys who walk dogs to get attention from the opposite sex (or same sex) are onto something. It notes someone named Nicolas Guégen conducted 4-studies to see if a dude with a dog gets a different response from women.

Apparently, according to the source, the likelihood of a man getting a woman’s phone number triples if he has a cute pooch in tow, according to the source. Since the article is from 2012, perhaps it now triples the chances of getting a girl’s Snapchat details.

3. Attraction is Different Than Lust

When you think of being attracted to someone, it’s often assumed it’s purely sexual. But that’s not the case – there are different parts of the brain firing for lust, attraction, and attachment (long-term bonds), according to Harvard University.

Lust is triggered by basic estrogen and testosterone, while attraction is attached to dopamine and serotonin, according to the source. “While we can certainly lust for someone we are attracted to, and vice versa, one can happen without the other,” says the source.

4. Symmetry is a Player

Psychology Today has a cute little video about the science of attraction, which talks about something called bilateral symmetry. While most people have some asymmetry in their faces, those who have more symmetry are usually considered more attractive, it explains.

The reason behind our attraction of symmetry? The site theorizes that it’s attached to oxidative stress during development in the uterus. The more a fetus is exposed to free radicals (which antioxidants in certain foods are supposed to protect against), the more oxidative stress they experience, and the less symmetrical they turn out. This can signal to a partner that there’s possible DNA damage, which is not ideal from a mating standpoint, it adds.

5. Considering Body Ratios

Just how your body is proportioned can turn the eye of a potential suitor, even if you’re the same overall mass as the person standing next to you. The Independent (UK) posted an article that explains that researchers have been looking at the impact of body shapes and ratios on attractiveness to a potential partner.

It says some studies show men are particularly attracted to women with a “low hip ratio” – meaning small waists and large hips. “Just why remains elusive, although suggestions have included better child-bearing abilities, improved health, and greater survival,” it notes. Women with larger hips apparently fare better in intelligence tests, it adds.

6. Women Send Signals Without Words

A man may notice a woman because of the physical signals she’s sending, long before she says a word, notes Thought Catalog. “The idea that men always make the first move is a fallacy,” it says.

It explains that 90-percent of the time, “a romantic encounter is spurred by a woman’s implicit flirting, like prolonged eye contact, small smiles, and open body language.” The man often speaks first, but it’s because he’s been given sufficient clues the woman wants him to initiate conversation, it says. (There of course will always be those moments where men misread the situation).

7. Your Parents Age When You Were Born Affects Your Choices

Buzzfeed claims that the faces you’re most attracted to might have something to do with how old your parents were when you were born.

The site points to a study that explains those of us born to parents in their 30’s prefer “older-looking faces,” while those who were born to parents in their 20’s preferred younger features.

8. Smiling Men May Be Less Attractive

A Canadian study finds that while people seem to value a nice smile, men who smile too much can be a turnoff for a potential partner, explains an article from Psychology Today. So, if you’re a brooding male that only smiles the odd time, you may be unexpectedly hot to women.

It’s no real surprise that on the flipside, men are attracted to women who flash their pearly whites often. However, what’s sort of strange is that the study also found that men are least attracted to women who look proud and confident.

Writer, General Health

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.

Men's Health News


Fathers Also Want to ‘Have It All,’ Study Says
By Gayle Kaufman Men's Health News

Fathers Also Want to ‘Have It All,’ Study Says

Have you seen the T-shirt slogan: Dads don’t babysit (it’s called “parenting”)? This slogan calls out the gendered language we often still use to talk about fathers. Babysitters are temporary caregivers who step in to help out the parents. But the fact is that fathers are spending more time with their children than ever before. […]

Read More about Fathers Also Want to ‘Have It All,’ Study Says

5 min read

Fatherhood Changes Men’s Brains, According to Before-And-After MRI Scans
By Darby Saxbe and Magdalena Martínez García Men's Health News

Fatherhood Changes Men’s Brains, According to Before-And-After MRI Scans

The time fathers devote to child care every week has tripled over the past 50 years in the United States. The increase in fathers’ involvement in child rearing is even steeper in countries that have expanded paid paternity leave or created incentives for fathers to take leave, such as Germany, Spain, Sweden and Iceland. And […]

Read More about Fatherhood Changes Men’s Brains, According to Before-And-After MRI Scans

5 min read