While there are a number of different reasons why we become interested in Psychology, certainly the most common one is that we want to better understand ourselves and the people around us. And it’s for this very same reason why we find the psychology of attraction such a fascinating and engaging topic to learn about.
Attractiveness is defined as “certain qualities or features that make a person more desirable and alluring to others” and it significantly influences their attitudes towards us. When we’re attractive, we also become more influential, more likable, and more persuasive, and more people will want to befriend us or pursue a romantic relationship with us. But what is it exactly that makes someone so attractive? What are these particular traits and characteristics that we look for in an ideal friend or partner?
Well, according to Psychology, here are the 8 most important things that make a person attractive:
Studies have shown that confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have (Bale & Archer, 2013). Why? Because nothing is more attractive than someone who knows their worth, someone who feels comfortable in their skin and isn’t afraid to take charge. Confident people turn heads when they walk into a room and command everyone’s attention with their presence. Cool, calm, and collected, they don’t second-guess themselves or shrink in the shadows. They are easygoing, charismatic, and self-assured. And their confidence is precisely what makes them so intoxicating to be around!
This next one may surprise you, because of the widely-held misconception that we need to act more distant and aloof to make the people we like interested in us. But availability is actually a really big factor in how attractive we find someone (Bell, 2016). We want someone who can be physically and emotionally there for us when we need them to, because we’re all hard-wired to crave the company and attention of those around us. And the more responsive, attentive, amd reliable someone is, the more we come to value our relationship with them and have a positive view towards them.
Though there may be 7 billion people in the world right now, each and every of us is unique in our own little way. No one else looks, talks, acts, thinks, or feels exactly the same way as us and that’s what makes us so fascinating! But some people would rather hide their uniqueness just to fit in. They make themselves seem “more normal” to others because they’re afraid of being seen as someone weird or different. But the truth is, when we learn to embrace what makes us special — whether it’s our looks, our experiences, our ideas, or our little quirks — we become much more interesting and engaging people!
Have you ever heard the saying “Nice guys finish last”? Well, psychology is here to tell us that that’s not actually true! Kindness is a very attractive — but often overlooked — quality that a lot of people want in a friend or romantic partner. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a very good-looking or charming person, when you show someone kindness, sympathy, and compassion, it will make them like you more over time (Baskerville, et al., 2000). Because at the end of the day, we all just want to be with someone who treats us as well as we deserve to be treated.
Interestingly enough, a recent study by psychologists Gignac, Darbyshire, and Ooi (2018) found that, for most people, there is a particular IQ score that will maximize an individual’s attractiveness but any higher will make them seem less desirable. And what is this particular IQ score, you ask? Well, it’s actually just a little bit higher than yours. That is to say, people are attracted to those whom they perceive as more intelligent than them, but not so much so that they become too intimidating to talk to. Intelligence is an attractive trait to have because it often leads to stimulating conversations, deep insight, and an interesting new way of looking at the world.
Next on our list of most desirable qualities in a person is passion; the enthusiasm and compelling desire to achieve a certain goal. People who are passionate have direction. They are driven, determined, and self-motivated. They know what they want and they plan how to get it. But more importantly, they have things that really matter to them and that they care about. They have big dreams and even bigger hearts that appeal to the optimist in all of us and inspire us to push ourselves to be better as well. Because with passion comes conviction, dedication, interest, and most importantly, love.
7. A Sense of Humor
Research has shown that we tend to be more attracted to the people who make us laugh, possibly because it shows cleverness, wit, and creativity (Lundy, Tan, & Cunningham, 1998). So it should come as no surprise that having a good sense of humor ranks high on the list of characteristics people look for in an ideal partner. Women, in particular, gravitate a lot towards men that they find funny; while men favor women who are playful and good-humored.
8. Their Demeanor
Last but certainly not the least is our demeanor. While it’s no secret that a person’s looks have a lot to do with how attractive we find them, there’s a lot more to it than just physical features. It also has to do with the way they dress, the way they act, and the way that they carry themselves. And because psychologists have found that it takes us only 30 seconds to decide whether or not we find someone attractive, our demeanor can make or break our first impression on someone (Ritts, Patterson, & Tubbs, 1992). Do you stand straight or slouch? Smile a lot or not at all? Do you wear clothes that fit you well and complement your style? Keep these things in mind when you want to make yourself more attractive, especially to strangers.They can make a world of difference.
So, do you agree to the things we’ve mentioned on this list? Do you also find these very same traits and qualities attractive?
In summary, while many of us think of attractiveness as just the symmetry of a person’s face or the flawlessness of their features, it’s actually a lot more complex and multi-dimensional than that. And though we all have different ideas about what makes someone attractive, these are some of the most common and widely agreed upon ones. You can read more about this topic in our article “8 Signs You’re More Attractive Than You Think” and 6 Things People Find Unattractive.”
- Bale, C., & Archer, J. (2013). Self-perceived attractiveness, romantic desirability and self-esteem: A mating sociometer perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 11(1), 147470491301100107.
- Bell, L. (2016). A study on the relationship between attractiveness and availability. Journal of Social Psychology, 13(20); 115-122.
- Baskerville, K., Johnson, K., Monk-Turner, E., Slone, Q., Standley, H., Stansbury, S., & Young, J. (2000). Reactions to random acts of kindness. The Social Science Journal, 37(2), 293-298.
- Gignac, G. E., Darbyshire, J., & Ooi, M. (2018). Some people are attracted sexually to intelligence: A psychometric evaluation of sapiosexuality. Intelligence, 66, 98-111.
- Lundy, D. E., Tan, J., & Cunningham, M. R. (1998). Heterosexual romantic preferences: The importance of humor and physical attractiveness for different types of relationships. Personal Relationships, 5(3), 311-325.
- Ritts, V., Patterson, M. L., & Tubbs, M. E. (1992). Expectations, impressions, and judgments of physically attractive students: A review. Review of educational research, 62(4), 413-426.