The Science Behind Attraction

Good news for you and your wing woman: You’ll only find the same guy enticing half of the time. According to new research published in Current Biology, what people find physically attractive is totally unique to that individual

To figure out what really makes someone one’s “type,” researchers from Wellesley College had 35,000 participants rate faces for attractiveness. Although there is the idea that certain perfectly symmetrical faces (like Brad Pitt) are universally pleasing, researchers discovered that different people were actually only drawn to the same face 50 percent of the time. (Why is attraction so intoxicating? Because A Beautiful Face Is Like Heroin, Study Says.)

Since so many people disagreed on who was hottest, researchers wondered if our physical preferences have to do with nature or nurture. The only way to control for genetic and environmental biases? By studying people who have identical genetics and environmental exposure—twins. But even people who are as identical as you can get only found the same faces attractive 50 percent of the time as well!

So what is influencing our “type?” Researchers hypothesize that it’s all based on your unique personal experiences. That’s why even your BFF who is *almost the same person* as you can be entranced by a wildly different set of traits: No two people have the exact same set of experiences and interactions.

Researchers guess there are two main types experiences that influence our attraction to someone: Familiarity and positive associations. Past research has shown that the more you interact with someone, the more appealing you find them. This same principle holds true for similar faces, which is why sometimes your friend’s rebound guy looks eerily similar to her ex. As for positive association, we tend to find things more attractive when we associate them with something else we like. This would explain why you find the barista who always gives you an extra shot of espresso in the morning so cute. (Would You Choose Sparks Over a Stable Relationship?)

The lesson? Own your type. Attraction is totally personal so go for the person you find alluring and forget about whether or not your friends agree.

Author Since: Jul 26, 2018