In my previous article I explored the subject attraction and relationship formation but I didn’t talk about attractiveness yet we all recognize that some people are physically more attractive than others. So you would ask, does physical attraction matter in relationship formation!? It shouldn’t surprise you that the answer is yes.
Physical attraction matters in the type of relationships we form but it matters in ways it probably shouldn’t. This brings us to what is known as the Hello effect. It is a bias that we attribute to attractive things or people.
A person who is physically attractive is seen to have other positive qualities, they are considered to be more smarter, more capable, more out going and social, and seen to have more self esteem. This tells us that our physical appearance influences people’s assumptions about our personality and skills. It is for this reason that most attractive people feature much in advertisements. Since attractive people are seen as more knowledgeable, their choice of a product influences us to believe that the product is right and safe for us to use.
Physical attraction is seen to be the best predictor of the relationships we form. But what does it mean to be attractive? Are there universal laws of attractiveness or is beauty in the eyes of the beholder? Well there are universal laws of attractiveness.
The first one being symmetry. 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. There may be a scientific reason for that as people who had lower levels of oxidative stress in their body also had more symmetrical features, meaning symmetrical folks may actually be healthier, according to a study published in the journal Animal.
Another is Your body mass index (BMI). It refers to the relationship between your height and your weight. Women who fall on the low end, below what is considered healthy, are considered the most attractive, according to a study published in PLoS One. For men, the results were more forgiving, with maximum attractiveness correlating with the healthy BMI range, they found. Don’t get too hung up on this one factor, though.
This might seem like a no-brainer but we are naturally attracted to people with brains, according to a study published in Intelligence. Both genders reported that “being smart” was an important characteristic in a mate with some even saying that intelligence was a sexual turn-on, they reported.
In a study by Cornell University, a group of people rated their ideal traits for long-term partners, and the overwhelming winner was fidelity. Faithfulness and trustworthiness ranked as extremely 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, PhD, the lead author of the study.
It’s not just about looks—our tendency to be drawn to attractive personalities has a basis in science as well. People were sexually attracted to those they saw doing altruistic acts, like helping a child, according to a study published in The British Journal of Psychology. The attraction was doubly strong when they also found the person physically hot.
Finally yet not the list, Certain facial features are considered most attractive—in men, it’s a strong jawline and in women, it’s large wide-set eyes. Both are examples of facial dimorphism—how men’s and women’s faces differ. This means the most attractive people are those who skew more masculine (in men) or feminine (in women).