10 Comprehensive Psychological Facts about Attraction

Psychologists are discovering more and more about human attraction every day. These facts may surprise you, disgust you, or even help you when you try your hand at flirting. Mating and courtship rituals may seem pretty simple at first glance – two people get together, and usually within a few minutes they’ve formed an opinion about whether they’re sexually attracted to each other. But what makes a person attractive? When you ask people why they’ve fallen in love, they can’t quite explain it. They say things like “I just knew they were the one,” or “It was love at first sight.” But psychologists are uncovering what’s really going on beneath it all, and how you might react depends on your point of view. Do you think love and attraction are just chemical reactions? If so, does that make love less entrancing and magical for you? Or does that in fact make love even more interesting and amazing?

1. Sound And Smell Play A Bigger Role Than You Think

A new study highlighted the multi-faceted elements to human attraction, including a hefty emphasis on sound and smell. The study, which was carried out at the University of Wroclaw in Poland, was published in a recent publication of Frontiers In Psychology. The study showed that people can determine a wide variety of characteristics from voice alone. People can not only guess someone’s age and gender by listening to their voice, but also the weight, size, dominance, and emotional state of the speaker. They can also accurately guess these traits from scent as well. This means that people rely on sight, sound and smell when it comes to being attracted to people, and all 3 senses play a vital role in making people attracted to one another.

The importance of scent in attraction is largely due to a androgen steroid called androstadienone. This steroid is emitted through the human axillary region, and it has been linked with human attraction. This is because it’s odorous chemical compound, and people can smell it on each other when they interact with each other. One study examined this further and found that there many other odors that were connected with mating and human attraction, not just androstadienone. These chemical compounds, which are naturally occurring in body odor, increase people’s perceived attraction of potential mates. Sometimes this happens from a distance, before verbal communication or physical interaction even takes place. HLA complexes is also something that is communicated through scent, and that will be touched on later in this article.

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  1. This article was very telling in how attraction actually occurs in the human brain. I found many of the sections in this article intriguing. I wanted to touch on the section about pedophilia first.

    I took a Violence in the Family class and from that class I learned about risk factors for people that could become violent in their lifetime. A couple factors include being abused (physical, psychological, emotional, and neglect), growing up in poverty, just being a witness to abuse (which is also a form of abuse), substance abuse, and having a mental illness as a child. You mentioned the history of abuse in 33%-75% of pedophiles but here are some other risk factors that could produce violence in a person. Also, many times in these cases of abuse, the trauma that occurs upon the child causes a chemical imbalance in their brain making them more susceptible to some kind of mental disorder, such as having anxiety, PTSD, etc.

    I also wanted to discuss your section about cheating partners. Your section describes a very accurate portrayal of what happens when you date someone that is more attractive than yourself, however, although the more attractive partner is getting hit on more, what is the reasoning behind them cheating? Opportunity? I am curious if there is a psychological reason for this.

    I enjoyed reading your article. It was great and very informative!

  2. This article is interesting. I would be curious to see if and how the chemical scents are related in same sex couples.

  3. Reading this, I was refusing to think that humans are this predisposed to what they are attracted to because of their DNA and social background and at the same time I was thinking: “yup, that sounds about right”.
    Was was wondering how some of these points were relating to same sex couples? For example how a woman’s cycle affects her attraction to other women? Would she like a woman with “manlier” facial features better? Or is there a difference because there is no procreation involved?
    And something about the cheating confused me. If you settle for somewone who is less attractive than you, then there is still someone more attractive than the other in the relationship which would lead, by that logic, to an endless cycle of cheating…right? So… this cannot be the only reason why people cheat, this factor has to be combined with something else.. right? As I said I’m confused.

  4. Very informative! I learned a lot from your article….
    I did not know that women are more likely to be attracted to intelligent while it being the contrary for men. This explains so much… my current boyfriend has dated many beautiful women in the past who did not really hold much interest in educational or academic areas (not trying to imply that they were dumb — but according to him they were kinda bimbo..) yet being intelligent and being knowledgeable are two traits that I have always desired in a man. Very interesting!

  5. The narrative of this article was quite flabergasting due in part to the many variations that dwell within the law of attraction and the various components that make someone “attractive”. The statistics and findings from studies regarding women and their menstrual cycles seemed common enough, as during this period of time women have a high range of interests and complications where they may only find men with side burns attractive as opposed to their norm of finding men with no beards attractive. This plays into the psychological effect of “feeding someone’s narcissistic ego and having that person dominate the playing field in the relationship because they can’t stop looking in the mirror. Your section of the portrayal of modern relationships from cheating partners to the inquisitive qualitative terms that make someone attractive such as voice and smell was reasonable and true, even if it is something we do not consciously think about on a date or when we are flirting. It has actually given me some thought to how I have conducted myself in past encounters with possible tutors and it was very interesting as well.

  6. Interesting article. I’m not entirely convinced though. This is most likely due to the sensitive subject, but perhaps we humans are not different as it seems to be. I was wondering if there is a reason for why these qualities are important for men and women’s partners to have. Is it beyond our understanding? Also, since women value intelligence , is that why there are women attracted to older men? I’m just curious because it is known that women are more intelligent than men. This was a good read. Thank you.

  7. This article definitely caught my attention. I would let the readers know from the first introduction paragraph that the studies done were on heterosexual couples rather than homosexual couples because throughout the entire article I was wondering where the data for the other side was. The second paragraph about the senses was neat, but providing some examples of the senses at work would have helped me understand how a woman can guess a man’s size from his voice.

    The intelligence paragraph was interesting, but is there any underlying cause? Are men just shallow? Do women find intelligence attractive because of the chance of potential offspring? Expanding on why this is would help answer many questions that I know I had, and maybe other people. The pedophile paragraph threw me off guard. Not many people talk about this so congratulations for being brave and writing about this. The only thing I would say is to look at your sentence structure and grammar; the writing got a little choppy.

    Not everyone would understand why narcissists would be considered “the bad guys,” so elaborate on that so the reader has background knowledge. The next paragraph on cheating kind of peeved me. Cheating is not something someone does because they have plenty of opportunities; cheating is an individual choice. Anyone can cheat, even if they aren’t a 10 on the attractive scale. Plus, are celebrity couples a good indicator on the subject? The title of this article is psychological FACTS about attraction, is this even a fact?

    I also want to add that yes, love is a chemical reaction in your brain, but of course emotion and personality have everything to do with it. Your body produces these chemicals based on what you see, hear, touch, smell, and yes, taste. It’s just like when you eat chocolate and your brain produces dopamine (a happy chemical) and then you get “addicted” to chocolate. It’s all because the reward center of the brain wants to keep feeling good feelings, so in return your brain wants more of whatever made it feel good. Which could be chocolate, or another person. Love is a chemical, but you fall in love for certain reasons.

    The pick up line paragraph threw me off. The pick up lines, although well crafted, did not make sense. In what setting would you use those in? Also, check your spelling. Lastly, it makes sense how women would be attracted to people with similar characteristics of their family members, but is this true for men and their sisters? If you could expand on the other side of the spectrum that would give an interesting perspective.

    Overall, this article was interesting and I think I would reference it while talking about attraction. Good job on linking sources and writing about creative ideas.

  8. Nice article! Thought provoking too. However, with all the labels on gender and preferences, it would be more interesting to see how these things apply. Do they apply to non-heteronormative folks? Does this affect their behavior?
    Anyway, awesome article. It’s really useful in understanding why some things are and how one should react to it. Good job!

  9. I really enjoyed reading this article and learning all these interesting facts. I like how it takes some stereotypes or myths and actually explains them with scientific proof like tests, statistics or experiments. It is very intriguing to see what a big roll attraction actually plays in our day to day lives from who we choose as a partner, to why our relationship might fail. Thank you!

  10. This is quite the informative article! The references to data are nice and appreciated, they back up these facts and give credibility, distancing this from a pure opinion piece. A little expansion on some of the facts would help in understanding and frame them. Specific examples in the first one about sound and smell would have given the reader more to ponder and contextualize the research date, albeit it’s an interesting fact in itself. Including more information in the intelligence fact would add understanding to it, like why women value intelligence and men looks, and what it might mean for the outliers who verge from the study’s findings. All in all, it was a nice, fun, and approachable piece!

  11. Attraction is such a weird thing when you think about it. You can get attracted to a lot of people who have nothing in common, and be equally attracted. Are chemicals in our brain really responsible for that? And I was wondering was it always like this? Have people always looked for the same qualities? If so that would mean that attraction is predetermined, and love would be just a word to describe this phenomenon. And honestly that makes me kind of sad. Also apart from the article, what’s up with these psychedelic pictures? I would understand if this was a topic about drugs, it just doesn’t make much sense to me. Maybe you wanted to refer that love is a drug? 🙂

  12. This article is interesting to see. Thinking about it, I always wondered why most of the Black and Latin American men in my community were dating and married to women that had grandiose hips ratio but lacking in the intelligence and critical thinking areas. Additionally, the men are also prone to higher risks of anxiety and depression from what I have seen. I guess I must be higher than a man of average because I tend to attract the higher intelligence women on a normal basis.

  13. A very intriguing article with quirky facts!
    Although I do have one query.
    When types of attraction and wrong kinds of attraction was mentioned, I was wondering about attraction to one person when already in another satisfying relationship. I am not intending cheating here, I am talking about keeping the other partner completely aware of your attraction to the third person. This does not mean that the love or attraction has faded between the first partner, but wanting to have both. I have seen situations where this seems acceptable and was wondering how the l”aws of attraction” worked here.

  14. A very interesting article ! The smell abilities are incredible and I wish I knew a bit more about that.
    I wonder if some elements like the beard thing are really biological or if they come more from “trend” ? It would be interesting to see the same studies conducted in the future to check that !

  15. Interesting! Thanks for sharing.
    How about women? You wrote about the beard, but what in women is attractive to men?

  16. Very interesting facts this article mentioned, however, there are a few points it provided that needed more elaboration. For instance, sound and smell. Smell is a very strong aspect that influences our behavior subconsciously and consciously. But how exactly? The article brought it up but there was no explanation as to how exactly does natural scent or even aroma from fragrances manipulates or attracts a person. Another point was the section explaining why pedophiles exist. I think I might understand why you decided to add that fact in order to establish your argument, but what is its purpose exactly? How is that piece of information supposed to affect the readers understanding of attraction?

  17. Very interesting article. There were a lot of different ideas going on here. The only flaw I found as a reader was the order of the facts. I started trying to read ahead when one didn’t interest me as much as the colorful picture below. I think adding a numerical notation by each fact would help readers stay on track. Ordering them in a logical manner would help as well, but these facts vary in their topics so that might be more difficult. Overall, excellent use of sources and information!

  18. I would first like to say that overall, this is was a well written article, with a plethora of sub-topics to be explored. Nice and quick, to the point. And even though the pictures are all on the ‘trippy’ side, as visuals, they are striking, and break up the article by its sections. I don’t mind them at all, but that’s just me.

    Now, I know this is going to sound defensive. I know this because, I FEEL defensive. LOL But I just have to personally disagree with your third section.

    “Men Don’t Value Intelligence as Much as Women.’

    I can’t outright argue the points of the study, it’s findings or the researches methods. I just don’t know enough about the subject from that angle. However, I can say, from a personal perspective, that almost none of this holds up.

    “Some of you might not be too surprised at this, but a recent study has shown that when looking for a mate, men value intelligence considerably less than women do.”

    I just feel sad that the very first thing said here is “you may not be surprised…” as if, we are all still, or supposed to still be buying into the lumbering oaf, helpless manchild meme. The Caricature of the ‘typical male’ is so outdated and grotesque, it resembles a court jester more than 49% of the population. Now, please understand, I am absolutely and 100% aware of the reprehensible actions and behavioral problems my male brethren have been and are capable of. Far too often we buy into the memes too, and we let the stereotypes write the script for us.

    I for one AM a little surprised to learn that studies have bore this out to be measurably true. It makes me a little sad, but then I also do understand that genetics have a role to play, nature…and maybe there is no getting past hard-wiring.

    Again though, I can’t disagree more. I value Intelligence, Character, Sense of Humor, Sense of Justice…Their Glass Half Full vs. Half Empty ratio…How angry are they? How often, and to what degree? All of these are indicators of not only their academic intelligence as we all think of it, but their Emotional Intelligence as well. E-IQ is something I have heard about in the past, and regardless of its actual scientific merit, I personally took the idea to heart and in my own way, use it to apply another layer of understanding to my universe. In the end, if I am being honest, A woman’s General Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are paramount in me choosing a partner.

    I would be a total liar if I then would try and lead you to believe that Physicality played no part. So I won’t try. There is of course a part to be played by another person’s physical nature. Their ticks and habits and mannerisms. How do they carry themselves? Do they need to be checked, or hugged? All of these things can be better sussed out taking into consideration their body and its language.

    I am also not too keen on the divisive nature of the last few sentiments either.

    “Women were fairly likely to date a man with below average good looks and high intelligence. But the chances that an average looking woman will be deemed attractive by a male stays at around 40% – even if she’s a genius. Does this make men more shallow than women? Not necessarily, but psychologist suggest that at least when it comes to looks, women are less picky than men.”

    Again, I can’t and won’t try to refute the study or any related numbers. However, the way this is written, just feels like a dig. And again, I am feeling defensive about this, so it goes without saying this is all very typical I suppose.

    In my personal experience, women are just as picky as men. I just don’t see a need to divide along this line. I have been single 95% of my appropriate-dating-aged-life. For one, I am not the standard of attraction. Two, I am highly anxious and introverted, so I don’t put myself out there very much. But, I do consider myself fairly intelligent. I have in the past reached out to a particular few, those I deemed worthy of my time and effort, and who also met most if not all of my attractors. Generally speaking, things just sort of…stayed the same.

    I have been rejected, and I have been picky myself and rejected someone as well. We are all picky, because on some level, we all fall somewhere on the Narcissism Spectrum and we want and NEED to pick partners with out interests and needs in mind. It’s self serving on some levels, but its natural on many others.

    In the end, I hope this comes off way less whiney and defensive then I think it does right now, but it may not. I’m not trying to make some ultimate case for all of men. No way, Men have let me down too much in my life…I get it. And I am also not saying all of this to, highlight myself as some shining example either. I don’t deserve recognition for being a decent human being. But I do feel some recognition does need to be established for the men out there who broke through the bullshit conditioning, and started to just be real. Just…be a Human. A good Human. We all live under immense pressure and expectations. If we could focus less on our differences, men…women…we could focus on the common denominators, Human, Love, Empathy, Respect… Maybe learn that we don’t need all these labels after all.

    Anyway, That is my one critique.

    The article as a whole, under the Title ‘Psychological Facts About Attraction’ was solid, but that segment just….felt more like opinion. Not Fact. EVEN THOUGH a study was cited. :0) No hard feelings! Nothing here was meant to be disrespectful or mean. These are just my thoughts and feelings writ large.


  19. Overall well phrased. Arguments are given with supporting facts. Quite informative and well cited as well.
    However there are a couple of things that make need to be looked over.
    The title, for one says FACTS but some of the points are formed as questions or rather arguments. Which is fine but it does not fulfill the purpose that is advertised. Especially with socially controversial subjects such as pedophelia ending a point in a question mark may cause distress in readers. Word choice matters.
    Keeping the explanation as short as possible is advantageous. People tend to find these articles on mobile devices and usually prefer to skim through them. Making that process as easy as possible will produce positive results.
    Finally the visuals could use toning down. The purpose of combining visual and text is to have them compliment each other. These images seem to wash the text out altogether. There is too much going on at once. Scarcer and more relevant images would be more appropriate.

    Hope this helps.