It can be tough to put your finger on what, exactly,
makes someone attractive. You may not be able to define the attraction you have to your partner, for instance. Or why you find some people more magnetizing than others. And yet, the qualities and traits we find alluring can, in many ways, be broken down and explained by science.
Take body language, for instance. "We are drawn towards qualities and body language that signal power [and] confidence,"
clinical psychologist Dr. Perpetua Neo, tells Bustle. "Between 55 to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal, and our brains are wired to pick up these signals more than what people actually say. This is so that we can quickly assess a situation and size up a person."
Biology might also play a role, for some people. Without even realizing it, we may be thinking about the survival of our genes when we find someone attractive
. "The science is that nature wants to stack the odds in favor of survival, and successful procreation is the hallmark of survival," Dr. Anna Guanche, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist who has researched the science of attraction, tells Bustle.
This may explain why we're often drawn to certain qualities. But while biology has a role to play, everyone's situation is different, and attraction can be more nuanced based on external circumstances. With that in mind, here are a few traits and qualities that can
make someone more attractive, according to science.
Making Steady Eye Contact
We often feel attracted to people when their pupils are dilated, possibly because large, open pupils a sign of pleasure and receptiveness, Dr. Guanche says, and they tend to
dilate during sex — two things that people may associate with attraction. But our pupils also dilate when we're in love, which can further draw someone in.
Blinking is also another eye-related trait we tend to zero in on. "Every time you blink, it is a subconscious message to show that you are receiving information you are being given," Dr. Guanche says.
Not only does it show you're engaged and listening to what someone has to say, but it's also the opposite of
a full-on stare — which can be quite off-putting.
If someone is going to be attracted to your breath, it may not be because you quickly chewed a piece gum, but because they can literally smell your DNA.
"There is some evidence that genetics affect the scent of either your breath or your body scent. [And] a lot of attraction has to do with scent," Dr. Guanche says. "Turns out, you are not attracted to people with similar
MHC major histocompatibility complex, and you may actually be able to smell that!"
In other words, your nose can tell when someone is a good match for you, biologically. "You are looking for more diversity when you mate," genetically speaking, Dr. Guanche says. And your breath might give that away.
Keeping An Open Body Posture
We often feel attracted to people who have an open body posture: shoulders back, arms down, and so on.
signals power and higher status," Dr. Neo says. "Think about it this way, when you're hunched up, your body picks up that you are in fear [...] And so your brain will signal to your body to release cortisol and adrenaline, you'll be in a state of fight-or-flight, and fear." And others can sense that.
"When our body postures are open — standing tall and proud — our brains pick up on that and
release more testosterone," Dr. Neo says. Many people find this stance attractive because it reveals confidence, and gives off a vibe that you are "owning" a situation.
We also tend to find body language cues that show we're listening — such as leaning in — to be quite attractive. As Dr. Guanche says, "The
body language of leaning in, crossing your legs towards someone, and opening your shoulders towards [them] is a sign of being receptive, and interested. This is a very attractive posture. On the contrary, turning away is an 'I'm not interested in you' message."
As mentioned above, people are
attracted to confidence — and all the beneficial characteristics it implies, such as health and power.
"Studies have shown that posture has a tremendous effect on how others view us and
how we view ourselves," Samantha Morrison, a health and wellness expert at Glacier Wellness, tells Bustle.
your shoulders back conveys that you're in charge, and that can change your whole vibe. As Morrison says, "By simply standing straight and looking engaged during your everyday activities, you’ll see a major improvement in your daily interactions and overall self-image."
Speaking In A High (Or Low) Voice
Studies show both high and low voices can be attractive, in their own way. For instance, "the octave of your voice [...] goes up
when you are ovulating," Dr. Guanche says. Researchers aren't sure why this happens, but this higher pitch may serve as a cue for procreation, which we subconsciously view as attractive — because it means our genes will survive.
Lower pitched voices
can also draw us in, Dr. Neo says. Deeper speaking voices come from the diaphragm, which is a sign of strength and confidence, two things our genes adore. Of course, it's not necessary to try and change you voice as a way of attracting people to you. But it is interesting to consider how we tune into other people's voices — without even realizing it.
Attraction can be an undefinable thing. And it can definitely vary from person to person, since we all value different things. But in some ways, it can also be explained by science, and what our brains are looking for on a subconscious level. It may take some of the fun out of it, but when it
comes to attraction, you often can't argue with biology.