10 Things That Make You More Attractive to Others, According to Science
Want to learn how to be more attractive without actually changing your physical appearance? Follow these 10 tips and tricks to successfully tap into the science of attraction.
If you’ve scrolled through TikTok or Instagram lately, you’ve likely come across countless sources of dating advice to secure a partner. Where therapists like Jeff Guenther (aka Therapy Jeff) share immensely insightful relationship tips based in psychology, other popular TikTokers—like Sabrina Zohar and Nicole Fay—reveal hard truths and helpful tidbits they’ve picked up from simply living and experiencing life in and out of love.
Then there are the sexologists—like Shan Boodram and Carlen Costa—who promote the vabbing trend (aka the process of rubbing vaginal fluids on pulse points in an attempt to diffuse pheromones), prompting women all over the world to try to nab a date by swabbing their nethers beforehand. (News flash: Despite the popularity and clickbait nature of vabbing, most doctors, including board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adeline Kikam, don’t recommend it, nor do any studies prove it.)
The point is, if you want to learn how to be a more desirable partner (or potential partner), social media can be a wealth of knowledge. However, it can also be a well of unfounded advice that could send your mind swirling down a rabbit hole. Since trying to sort through what’s fact and what’s fiction can be challenging, we’re here to share 10 things that make you more attractive to others, according to legitimate science. So close out of your social media apps, take a deep breath, and keep reading to learn more.
How to Be More Attractive: 10 Tips Backed by Science
1. Pose in Group Photos
Since dating apps remain incredibly popular in 2023, this fun fact might just make your swiping experience a whole lot merrier. While you might think that only posting photos of yourself in the form of selfies and full-body shots will give your potential match the best possible idea of your physical attractiveness, research shows that posing in group photos is actually very beneficial. According to a 2013 study published in Psychological Science: A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers found that “individual faces will seem more attractive when presented in a group because they will appear more similar to the average group face, which is more attractive than group members’ individual faces.” They dubbed this “the cheerleader effect.”
This can go both ways, though. According to a 2014 study published in The Leadership Quarterly, researchers highlighted the “importance of group membership as a lens for perceiving familiar leaders’ physical attractiveness.” In layman’s terms, the people (and ideals) you surround yourself with can impact how attractive others perceive you to be.
2. Smile and Have a Sense of Humor
Ask any woman how she feels about being told to smile more and she’s likely to let out an exasperated sigh. That said, there’s science behind the commentary. According to a 2012 study published in Cognition and Emotion, researchers found “that the evaluation of attractiveness is strongly influenced by the intensity of a smile expressed on a face: A happy facial expression could even compensate for relative unattractiveness.”
Having a sense of humor is another tip vetted by the science of attraction. (Who doesn’t love to laugh, right?) In a 2010 study published in Psychological Reports, researcher Nicolas Guéguen found that when women overheard funny jokes coming from a group of men, they found the man telling the jokes to be the most attractive.
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3. Play Hard to Get
We hate the idea of having to play games to be considered attractive just as much as the next person, but science actually does back it up. According to a 2020 study published by the University of Rochester in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, “A person who is perceived as hard to get is associated with a greater mate value.” But there’s a caveat. While the modern-day approach to playing hard to get often centers around the concept of being a “fu*kboy,” study co-author Harry Reis says that’s not the case. “If playing hard to get makes you seem disinterested or arrogant, it will backfire,” he assures readers.
4. Be Transparent While Dating Online
While playing hard to get and taking a bit longer to confirm a date might heighten interest, according to a 2018 study published in Computers in Human Behavior, being upfront about your intentions and how you feel while online dating is best. By contrast, the researchers found that being vague about relationship and romantic intentions—and seeming uninterested in the process—actually had detrimental effects on a person’s overall appeal. In other words, while playing hard to get might work when you’ve already met someone in person, when dating online, it’s best to be forthcoming.
5. Be Open, Honest, and Kind
Being honest and upfront isn’t only helpful on dating apps. According to a 2007 study published in Personal Relationships, researchers found that men and women who exude positive traits like honesty and kindness were perceived to be more attractive than those who expressed negative traits, such as rudeness and unfairness.
Tapping into this, NYC-based sex, relationships, and mental health therapist Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, says that being open and honest about what you want in a kind way is essential for creating an enduring bond. “Be descriptive of who you are and what you want,” she suggests. “Openness and honesty are incredibly attractive qualities for someone looking for a partner. People can sense when you’re being cagey or not sharing your true self.” Not sure how to dive right into online dating (or dating IRL) with this approach? Wright’s recommendation: Be blunt.
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6. Pay Attention to Your Voice
While you can’t change your voice, it is possible to adjust your tone and pitch. And, according to a 2013 study, doing so can make you more attractive. Where researchers found that men preferred a higher-pitch female voice (said to signal a smaller body size), women preferred a lower pitch (which signals a larger body size). Both men and women also found that breathiness played into perceptions of attractiveness. For women, specifically, a breathier male voice made men with large bodies seem less aggressive and more approachable—not to mention more attractive.
7. Be Altruistic
There’s this notion that doing good makes you feel good, but it’s also scientifically proven that doing good makes you look better to others, too. According to a 2020 article published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, authors found that those who are more giving come across as more physically attractive, and that those who are more physically attractive are more likely to be giving.
8. Flex Your Status As a Pet Parent
There’s a meme going around that says dogs are the new children and plants are the new pets. According to science, there’s something to be said about the correlation between pups and kids. A 2013 article in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology found that men with dogs were thought to be more attractive mates because their ability to care for and nurture their furry friend implied that they were (or could be) committed.
9. Know How to Hold a Conversation
There’s a reason why so many people drone on about Bumble matches who don’t know how to say more than “hi” or talk about the weather: Small talk is boring, and it doesn’t tell you anything of substance about your match. According to a 2016 research article published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, authors found that people were more likely to want to engage with people after engaging in more self-disclosure, as opposed to simply rattling off small talk.
10. Be Confident
A bit of confidence goes a long way, according to the science of attraction. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Personality found that the more self-confident a man was, the more attractive they were considered to be. Of course, the same goes for yourself. One of the most important things to remember while dating is to be self-assured, Wright says. “Even though a screen, we’re attracted to people who feel comfortable and confident in their own skin—who own who they are.” Full stop.