What Makes You Attractive to Other People? 21 Scientific Reasons Behind Attraction

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There’s no magic formula for attraction, even though it sometimes feels that way. Why we fall head over heels for someone is a combination of different factors, and physical appearance is just one part of the story.


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We all know kissing is a big part of attraction, but did you know it might have a biological basis? Studies suggest swapping spit (about 80 million bacteria worth) during a kiss helps us assess potential partners.

Tastes Good! 

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Experts believe the taste of someone can influence attraction because it hints at their immune system. We might be subconsciously drawn to people with different immune responses, possibly leading to healthier offspring.

A Good Sense of Humor


Ever thought why someone who can make you laugh out loud seems so attractive? Telling or laughing at a joke activates your prefrontal cortex, the part responsible for connecting information. When you “get” the joke, another area associated with reward kicks in – the same one stimulated by pleasurable experiences like delicious food or exciting activities.

Funny Men Are More Attractive


Studies suggest heterosexual women are drawn to men with a good sense of humor, while men often seek partners who appreciate their jokes. The takeaway? Plan a fun date! Shared laughter creates positive feelings linked to your partner, significantly boosting attraction.

Happy Hormones


Several chemicals play a role in attraction and bonding. Dopamine, the “reward hormone,” gets released when we do things we enjoy, like spending time with someone special. Serotonin, often called the “happy hormone,” also increases with attraction. 

And physical touch, from hugs to more intimate contact, triggers the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone.” No wonder spending quality time with someone, having fun together, and physical closeness can make those feelings of attraction grow stronger.


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Our voices can be surprisingly attractive. One study suggested women might find men with lower-pitched voices more appealing, especially during ovulation. This could be biological, as deeper voices might hint at a man’s ability to father healthy children. In the animal world, lower pitches are often associated with larger size, a sign of dominance.

It’s not just about biology, though. Another study showed people considered more sexually experienced to have sexier voices. It seems confidence can play a role here too!


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Attraction isn’t all about physical appearance – kindness plays a major role too. Studies have shown that people perceived as kind are often rated as more attractive. Even simply associating positive personality traits with someone’s photo can increase their perceived attractiveness.

Evolutionary Past and Attraction


This focus on kindness might have roots in our evolutionary past. Tim Phillips, a psychiatrist at the University of Nottingham, suggests our ancestors valued potential mates who displayed altruistic behavior. After all, kindness could indicate someone would be a good and supportive long-term partner, a valuable quality for raising offspring.


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Science suggests smell can play a role in attraction. A study even found women with certain hormonal profiles, indicating fertility, were considered more attractive to men. This makes evolutionary sense, as men are drawn to potential partners who can conceive.

But scent is about more than biology. It can trigger memories! A familiar perfume might remind someone of a loved one, or the smell of freshly cut grass could evoke happy childhood days. 

What You Eat 


Believe it or not, your diet might influence how attractive you are to others. A small study suggested women found men who sweat more after eating fruits and vegetables to be more attractive. 

The researchers think this might be because healthy food translates to a more pleasant body odor. So, while that burger might be tempting, filling up on fruits and veggies could have a surprising romantic benefit!



As we grow older, we gain a better understanding of ourselves. This self-awareness is a plus when searching for a partner because you know what qualities you value and what you seek in a relationship. 

Younger vs. Older People


Michele Kerulis, a counselor, explains that younger people might be more focused on physical appearance and initial attraction, while mature individuals consider the whole picture, including someone’s values, personality, and how they treat others. In short, maturity allows you to seek someone who aligns with you on a deeper level.


Confident businessman in formal cloths drinking coffee and reading news in the kitchen
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Our hormones might be like tiny matchmakers, influencing who we find attractive. Studies suggest men with higher testosterone levels might be drawn to women with conventionally feminine features, such as big eyes, full lips, and a delicate jawline. 

However, these same high testosterone levels might not make men themselves more attractive in others’ eyes.



Fertility seems to play a role in attraction. Some studies suggest women appear more attractive during ovulation, possibly due to hormonal changes influencing their scent and appearance.

However, other research shows this might not translate to getting asked out. A speed-dating study found women nearing ovulation were more likely to initiate dates, not necessarily receive them. So, fertility might influence confidence and outgoing behavior more than pure attraction.



Can our environment influence what we find attractive? Absolutely yes! Our surroundings play a big role in shaping our ideas of beauty. The media, our families, and even our social circles can all influence what we perceive as attractive. 

Exposure to diverse portrayals of beauty other than what we’re familiar with can help us challenge conventional standards and appreciate a wider range of looks.

Facial Features


While a symmetrical face is often considered classically beautiful, attraction goes beyond following a perfect template. Sometimes a charmingly crooked smile or a unique birthmark can be what makes someone truly attractive.

Is ‘Average’ More Attractive?


Interestingly, research suggests that “average” faces might be considered more attractive. This could be because features that fall within the norm represent a wider range of genes, potentially signifying better health. Ultimately, beauty is subjective and shaped by our individual experiences.

Familiarity Breeds Liking


There’s a reason the saying “opposites attract” isn’t always true. Research suggests we’re drawn to people who resemble us, both in looks and personality. 

For instance, a study from Scotland found people might be attracted to features similar to their parents’, perhaps because we associate those features with our caregivers and positive experiences.

Beyond Personal Connections


This attraction goes beyond just personal connections. Studies published in journals like Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Psychological Science have shown spouses tend to be more genetically similar than random pairings, and people often trust those who look like themselves more readily. There’s a sense of comfort and familiarity in finding someone who mirrors you in some way.

Opposites Attract

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While similarities can be comforting, a bit of difference can be extremely attractive too. Maybe you had a sheltered upbringing and find yourself drawn to someone with adventurous stories and a worldly outlook. Jacqueline Fae, a dating coach and the founder of IDL Match Club, even sees this play out with clients. 

MHC-dependent Mate Choice

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People with fair features might be drawn to partners with darker complexions, and vice versa. There could be a biological reason for this too. Choosing a mate with a very different MHC reduces the risk of inbreeding and promotes genetic diversity in offspring, potentially leading to healthier kids. 

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.