What makes some people so irresistibly attractive? You may not have been the most popular kid in school, but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn the attributes of what makes some people more attractive than others. And it is much more than about the way you look.
This reminds me of Dale Carnegie’s classic bestseller book I read years ago: “How to win friends and influence people.” So, naturally, we are attracted to different qualities, but some common characteristics make some people more attractive than others. And this is backed by science. Here are five in particular.
When they are similar to us
There is truth in the saying, “birds of a feather flock together.” We find people who share our views, interests, and attitudes more attractive than those who don’t. According to psychology, we need to reduce cognitive dissonance, a natural survival mechanism. Therefore, we are most comfortable with people with the same views.
Dissonance occurs when someone holds and expresses views that conflict with your values. For example, I recall a friend’s husband making racist comments while I was at their place for dinner. It made me sick to my stomach that I felt compelled to leave before dinner was over.
Spending time with people with similar values and beliefs reduces cognitive dissonance and conflict. They make us feel understood. And we all want to be understood.
When we are feeling happy
People who are near us when we feel happy appear more attractive. Engaging in endorphin-producing activities, such as exercise or yoga, may make you naturally attracted to the person who happens to be nearby.
And it has little to do with who they are. But everything has to do with the endorphins your body is producing. Psychologists term this as misattribution. When we are happy, we incorrectly attribute our happiness to whoever is around us, even if they have not done anything to contribute to our feelings of joy.
It’s the same feeling you get when you’re out for drinks with friends and having a great time. The people at the following table appear much more attractive even if you’re not drinking alcohol. Feeling happy makes you and others look attractive.
When they demonstrate curiosity
Curiosity is an attractive quality in a person. People who are curious about us and what we have to say are more attractive than people who show no interest in us, our point of view, or who we are. Todd Kashdan of George Mason University and his colleagues conducted a study that points to this: “Being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that’s what gets the dialogue going,” he says. “It’s the secret juice of relationships.”
If you want to be more attractive, be interested in others instead of trying to be interesting. Of course, someone who asks too many questions can be too intrusive. Read the other person’s body language. If you want to be more attractive, ask more questions.
When they reveal the right amount of intimate details about themselves
We feel closer to people willing to reveal their vulnerabilities and innermost thoughts. It shows a sign of openness which is very attractive. Mutual self-disclosure creates trust and a sense of safety, drawing people to one another. The degree of disclosure, however, is essential. Disclosures that are too intimate may reveal the person’s character flaws, thus making them less likable. However, personal revelations too early in a relationship can be perceived as a sign of insecurity, which is unattractive.
When they have a good sense of humor
To many of us, one of the most desirable qualities in a person is a sense of humor. Studies show that women perceive men with a sense of humor as more attractive. In addition, humor is a sign of intelligence.
Humor can help us bond, build trust, make people feel at ease, and allows a relationship to develop more rapidly. In addition, laughing causes a release of endorphins, which makes you feel good. So, it is no surprise that humor is highly desirable.
Like self-disclosure, the right amount and the correct type of humor are necessary. You must know your audience. If you leave people feeling good about themselves, they will like you.
They are not too easily accessible.
Economist Dr. Robert Cialdini coined the “principle of the scarcity of persuasion. And from him, social sciences also apply the principle of scarcity to explain how we find things and individuals more attractive when we cannot easily attain them. So the advice your mom gave you about playing hard to get has scientific merit – we place more value on things that are harder to get. And that includes people. If you want to attract someone, a certain level of unavailability will make you more of a mystery and a welcomed challenge.
Bringing it all together
While beauty ultimately lies in the eyes of the beholder, there are certain qualities most of us would find attractive. You can nurture these attributes. Take notice of what you find particularly attractive. And become aware of what it is about you that people find particularly attractive. People who embody attractive attributes are more likable. Becoming more appealing can help you personally and professionally in all areas of your life.