The Science Behind Why We Find Certain People Attractive

The science behind beauty and attractiveness is long-studied and complex. For example, the “golden ratio” largely determines the attractiveness of women, scientists at the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Diego have discovered. The most attractive measurements? Faces with the vertical space between the eyes and mouth that equal 36% of the total length of the face, and a horizontal distance equaling 46%. But, it turns out that beauty is more than skin deep, with hormones and scents also playing a role in attractiveness.

The value of symmetry

The symmetry of a face, along with sexual dimorphism — aka how masculine or feminine the face is in either a man or a woman — plays a vital role in perceived attractiveness, a study in PLoS ONE reveals. Fortunately, there are many ways to effectively improve facial symmetry. For example, fillers can correct an asymmetrical jawline. By adding volume and contouring, fillers can elongate and reshape the face to improve symmetry in the cheekbones and jawlines. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more permanent solution to fix a misaligned jaw, jaw implants can add a more balanced proportion with long-lasting results. However, this surgery is expensive — usually between $2000 and $4000.

Looks aren’t everything

According to a study in Frontiers in Psychology, attractiveness relies on key components like smell and sound, in addition to beauty. The study looked at three decades-worth of research regarding human attraction and found people typically prefer the voice and smell of mates with a different genetic background (despite being visually attracted to people with similar genotypes). It’s thought that the interplay of both of these preferences helps gear us towards choosing complimentary mates. This means that when you first meet a potential partner, the tone of their voice — and even how they smell — does make some sort of impression on you, even if you’re not consciously aware of it.

Average is beautiful

A growing body of research also shows us that the more a facial feature matches that of the population average, the better looking it’s generally perceived. Essentially, this is down to it being an indication of genetic diversity. In particular, a study by JH LAnglois and a team of researchers presented participants with a series of digital composite faces. The researchers found that faces were ranked as more attractive the larger the number of faces used to create the digital composite. Moreover, the “golden ratio” also matches the ratio of the average face. It’s thought that people subconsciously assess and remember all the unique faces they’re exposed to, and identify the average width and height as the ultimate ideal. Facial averageness and symmetry is also seen as a marker of good health.

Ultimately, beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder. However, getting to know the complex science behind attractiveness can present us with valuable insights into why we’re attracted to the specific people we find ourselves attracted to.

by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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