Ways You Can Actually Attract People That You'd Never Guess

Attraction is a universal feeling found throughout every species. But have you ever wondered what makes someone more or less attractive to another person? It comes down to more than you might realize. But before we break down the strange ways attraction finds everyone, let's take a quick look at attraction in its basic form.

According to WebMD, attraction is a sense of desire or closeness toward another person. Depending on the situation, attraction can come in different forms. You can connect with a person on a sexual, physical, or emotional level. Romantic attraction usually combines all the different types of attraction and is the basis for an intimate relationship with another person. It's also the most common type of attraction you consider when you wonder if someone is attracted to you.

Typical ways you might consider someone to be attractive include facial shape, symmetry, body type, feminity, and masculinity. Situations like stress and proximity can make you more attractive to someone. They can also be more attracted to you due to your healthy look, robust immune system, body odor, ovulation, parent's features, posture, or voice. Read on to learn more about the science behind these unique forms of attraction.

Stress increases sexual attraction

The man sitting next to you on the bus didn't seem attractive when you took your seat. However, after almost losing your life in a rollover, you notice his dimples and Adonis-like hair. It's not the man's attractiveness that has piqued your interest. The life-or-death experience has made the stranger look more attractive. Basically, danger is sexy.

When it comes to the stress vs. attraction debate, many refer to a 1974 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology where men on a suspension bridge found women more attractive than those who weren't in a fear scenario. However, current research has also backed up this theory. A 2012 study in PLoS One found that psychological stress affected attractiveness ideals. Within the study, men in the experimental group were given a task that heightened stress and then asked to rate women's attractiveness. The ones from the experimental group found "heavier" female body types more attractive than the control group did. 

Psychology Today notes that the diversity of attraction during heightened stress could be due to a survival response. Interestingly, this ingrained survival mechanism could also be to blame for destructive relationships.

A strong immune system makes you more attractive

Discovering that your immune system helps you become more attractive might seem weird, but the science backs it up. An excellent immune system gives you a healthy look others seem to gravitate toward.

This theory was tested in a 2022 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. After having participants rate the facial features of others, the researchers found that the most attractive were the ones with the highest rates of phagocytosis, a process by which blood cells destroy bacteria and germs, which lowers their likelihood of getting an infection. As Summer Mengelkoch at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth told New Scientist, "Perhaps it's a cue to people's genetic qualities, including their immune function and [the capacity to] pass on that good immune function down to their children." It makes sense if you think of it from an evolutionary perspective since those with a higher immune system are more likely to live longer and pass on strong traits to their young.

Additionally, a 2012 article in Nature Communications states that a high immune response increases the attractiveness of males. The men with the highest levels of attractiveness were those with low cortisol levels and high immune response to a vaccine. So, your robust immune system is doing you favors when finding the perfect romantic partner.

Body odor and what you eat make you more attractive

There are just scents that you like. It's a huge turn-on when a woman comes near you wearing your favorite perfume. However, you're also attracted to her natural body odor.

According to a 2017 study in Evolution and Human Behavior, the smell of attraction has something to do with what you eat. Within the study, male donors provided a sample of body odors, which varied based on their diet. Female recruits were then asked to sniff and evaluate the body odor samples. The results showed the judges rated the ones who ate fruit and veggies more positively. The study speculated that increased favorability could be related to a person's health. Additionally, 2021 research published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications noted that specific odors can influence a person's arousal, thereby creating a correlation between scents and attractiveness judgments. 

Interestingly, smells don't just play a role in romantic bonds. A 2022 study in Science Advances also showed humans with a similar smell seem to click better. To test this, researchers obtained odor samples from same-sex nonromantic pairs of friends and found that those with similar smells formed better connections.

The outward appearance of health influences attraction

You might look at the beautiful person in the coffee shop and develop an instant crush on them. According to research, the instant attraction you feel building within your heart can be tracked down to the outward appearance of health.

A 2017 study in Scientific Reports showed facial attractiveness provides signals to a person's health. They broke down the attractiveness signals to several factors, including sexual dimorphism, symmetry, adiposity, and carotenoid-based skin color. Per the study, predictors like averageness, symmetry, and adiposity linked attractiveness and health; therefore, outward signs of health can make a person more attractive.

Additionally, a 2011 study in Human Evolution and Behavior looked at three studies exploring how the perception of health changed based on the color changes in the faces of individuals, noting carotenoid (yellow) coloration might provide a visual signal of health in humans as it does in birds and fish. By dissecting the research studies, it was found higher carotenoid pigments in the face were linked to attractiveness since they signal improved immune defense and reproductive health. Therefore, having outward signs of health, like more yellow in your face, can make you more attractive on an evolutionary level. 

Ovulation plays a role in attraction

Your face will look softer and more appealing during ovulation than at other times of the month. A 2004 study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences showed that facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle. In the study, participants were asked to judge photographs of women taken during ovulation and the luteal phase. Faces during ovulation were rated as more attractive. The study proposed that, on a biological level, small signals of ovulation found in the face could make them more attractive since it lets prospective mates know their chances of conception are higher.

The reasoning behind this could be due to the color changes in the face during ovulation. A 2011 study in PLoS One found that redder faces are more desirable because they are perceived as healthier. Therefore, a ruddy complexion during ovulation might signal improved health and fertility, making women more attractive. 

Additionally, 2021 research published in Evolutionary Human Sciences found that women feel more attractive during ovulation than at other times in their cycle. The large-scale study had women keep an online diary for 70 consecutive days and analyzed the results of 872 women. It was concluded that ovulation makes you feel more body-positive and sexy. 

Proximity can make you more attractive

As it turns out, there is a reason you like the girl next door or have a crush on the boy who works at the deli counter near your house. Research says that proximity plays a role in your attractiveness.

According to Psychology Today, the propinquity effect refers to the likelihood that people who share the same environment can form meaningful connections more easily. In other words, the people you interact with regularly become familiar to you, and subsequently, part of your life. The more comfortable you become with them, the more positive feelings you build toward them, increasing their attractiveness. With that said, proximity doesn't overcome any negative feelings you might have about someone.

You parents' features affect what you see as attractive

Thinking you might be attracted to a body type like your mother or father might have you shaking your head. But, Elayne Savage, psychotherapist, told CNN, "When you grow up familiar with a certain type of person, you're attracted to that same type of person because it feels comfortable, whether you like it or not." Therefore, you feel like you have a cosmic connection or have known the person you choose as your partner forever. That feeling stems from the fact that they are similar to your parents.

Research published in 2003 in Evolution and Human Behavior found that one of the best predictors of your partner's eye and hair color is the color of your opposite-sex parent's coloring. The study went on to clarify the reasoning behind this phenomenon could be due to imprinting during infancy, which is the attachments you form with your parents that guide your identity. 

This makes sense, according to Claudia Johnson, relationship, intimacy, and sex therapist. She told Cosmopolitan, "The nuclear family [is] your first point of contact when you're developing and you're recognizing what is healthy, what's unhealthy, what feels good, what doesn't feel good, what is safe versus what isn't." This type of imprinting can make its way into your sexual life, making you look for a partner who's similar to that loving relationship you are used to.

Your posture affects attractiveness

When your mother tells you to sit straight, you should pay attention. It turns out your posture plays a role in attractiveness, especially regarding speed dating. In a 2013 study in i-Perception, they showed images of individuals of different body types to participants to have them rate them. They also had those same people in different postures. The study found adjusting the posture made the same person more attractive. 

Additionally, 2016 research in PNAS used two field studies looking at speed dating to determine which body type, expansive or contractive, was more desirable regarding brief encounters or images. The results showed expansive body postures increase a person's desirability. This result was consistent among all genders. Co-author Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk told CNN, "We've seen it in the animal world, that taking up more space and maximizing presence in a physical space is used as signal for attracting a mate." 

Pay attention to your posture the next time you see someone at the mall that strikes your fancy. It might be just the thing that brings them your way. 

The sound of your voice affects how good-looking you are

Have you ever heard that sexy voice on the phone that you couldn't forget? You might have also seen a beautiful goddess with a voice that has you running for the hills. According to a 2005 study in Animal Behaviour, the frequency and depth of a voice play into how attractive a woman finds a male. During the study, researchers gathered 10 young adult male voices and altered the frequencies and vocal lengths to have 89 females rate them. It was concluded that lower male voices were considered more mature and attractive.

The reason for the more attractive lower voice can come down to hunter-gatherers and their reproductive success. Research published in 2007 in Biology Letters showed men with lower voices had a higher reproductive success rate. Evolutionarily, women would find lower voices more attractive since they are more successful in creating offspring, which was in line with other animal studies. 

Furthermore, a 2013 study by PLoS One found that males find light and breathy female voices more attractive. These voices are preferred due to their indication of smaller body sizes. These vocal cues of size go back to vocal strategies used in animal calls.