From an evolutionary standpoint, we are attracted to people who we perceive as beautiful, like those with symmetric faces or large eyes, because it tends to signify good genetics. And good genes mean healthy babies.
But just because you’re not born with model looks doesn’t mean you’re doomed.
Science tells us that there are ways to spice up your sexiness, through techniques that aren’t necessarily regulated by biology.
Hang out in groups
You look better with your friends than you do on your own, psychological scientists have found. The phenomenon known as the “cheerleader effect” happens because the human brain tends to average the faces of people in a group rather than seeing them as individual subjects. This benefits people with less attractive physical features.
Source: Psychological Science, 2013
Stick around for closing time
In a 1979 paper, University of Virgina researchers cite numerous studies showing that in a bar setting, individuals of the opposite sex are seen as more attractive as “the time to decide whether to interact with them decreases.”
A more recent study from 2010 confirmed that bar patrons see romantic potentials as “significantly more attractive” at closing time, but only if the observers were not in a relationship.
The same region of the brain that is activated when people receive a reward, called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, is engaged when a person sees a beautiful face. Using brain scans, a team of researchers showed that this response is “further enhanced by a smiling facial expression.”
The health of a person’s chompers is also important. A separate study conducted by British researchers found that white and evenly-spaced teeth makes people seem more attractive, probably because it’s a sign of good health, and in women, fertility.
Red is the colour of hearts, roses, and love it seems. The well-studied “red-effect” suggests that both men and women are more drawn to the opposite sex when they are wearing red. In several experiments, researchers from the University of Rochester looked at women’s responses to photographs of the same man in a variety of colour shirts. A similar experiment was conducted to quantify the effect of red-garbed women on men. In both scenarios, the participants were more eager to get it on when the person in the photograph was wearing red.
This could be partly learned, as red has long been associated with royalty, and we now equate it with power or being able to provide. For women, the response may be more biological. “Research has shown that nonhuman male primates are particularly attracted to females displaying red,” according to a statement from the University. “Female baboons and chimpanzees, for example, redden conspicuously when nearing ovulation, sending a clear sexual signal designed to attract males.”
Change the pitch of your voice
The way we speak plays a key part in the perceived attractiveness of men and women. In one study, researchers from the University College London found that in women, a higher-pitched voice is seen a more attractive because it indicates the speaker has a smaller body size. Guys, on the hand, should aim for a deep voice with a touch of breathiness, indicating they have a large-size frame, but low levels of aggression.
Source: PLoS One, 2013
Work on your sense of humour
“Both men and women prefer someone with a ‘ good sense of humour’ as a relationship partner,” a study led by Eric Bressler of Westfield State College found, but each sex values humour differently. While women like men who make them laugh, men like women who laugh at their jokes (men don’t care much about a woman’s wit). In another study, French researcher Nicolas Guéguen instructed men in a bar to either tell or not tell a funny joke to their friends as a woman sat at nearby table. The men who told jokes were three times more likely to get that woman’s number than those who did not.
“The effect of a great sense of humour on women’s attractions might be partially explained by the fact that funny people are considered to be more social and more intelligent, things that women seek in a mate,” evolutionary psychologist explains in an article on Psychology Today.
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