Physical Attraction isn’t All About Looks, According to Science

Fagjun | Published 2017-11-19 18:31

A pretty face isn’t the only thing that makes people attractive, scientists have found. Our voice and smell also play a significant role in physical attraction.

Being good-looking isn't the only that makes people attractive.



Our eyes aren’t the only things that judge whether or not someone is attractive. It turns out that our ears and nose have their own input as well. Think of your significant other or someone that you find attractive. It’s likely that their face isn’t the only thing that you’ll think about. You’re also likely to be fond of the sound of their voice as well as their smell. You probably won’t want to be romantically involved with someone whose voice you can’t stand or whose smell you find unpleasant.


Thus, if smell and the sound of a voice play key roles in physical attraction, why are they important? Researchers suggest that a person’s voice and odor can tell us a lot about their health and characteristics, such as dominance and even fertility.

The Three Factors in Physical Attraction

Auditory and olfactory cues play a role in attraction too.



In a recent paper, researchers reviewed 73 studies on attractiveness, all of which range from 1977 to 2017. Upon reviewing these papers, the researchers came to the conclusion that physical attraction relies on three different sensory factors. Visual, auditory, and olfactory cues all play an important role in finding someone attractive. However, the researchers also found that there is a dearth of studies on the role of a person’s voice and smell in physical attractiveness. Most studies have focused on physical appearance and its effects, but there is little literature about the auditory and olfactory dimensions of physical attraction.


According to the findings, a person’s voice may help us evaluate certain characteristics like age, sex, emotional state, physical strength, dominance, and cooperativeness. We may even be able to evaluate their fertility based on their voice.


Our smell, meanwhile, can give others clues about the state of our health. A number of diseases like diabetes, scrofula, and typhoid fever give off a certain scent. For example, the odor associated with diabetes has been described to smell like rotten apples.


A specific (and controversial) study on the effect of smell, which was not included in this review, had female participants smell shirts that male participants had worn for two consecutive nights. The women were asked to rate the intensity, sexiness, and pleasantness of the odors. According to the study’s findings, women rated a man’s scent to be more pleasant if they had dissimilar genes, possibly because this may be more beneficial to possible offspring.

What Remains to be Seen

What's the biggest factor in attraction?



There have been a few more similar studies, but so far, there is no conclusive evidence that our sense of smell influences our choice of mate in that sprcific way. Other studies, which were included in the review, suggest that the attractiveness of a woman’s voice may vary depending on where she is on her menstrual cycle.


Another study has also found that there is a correlation between the level of a voice’s attractiveness and the body type of the person the voice belongs to. Women rated to have more attractive voices tended to have a smaller hip-to-waist ratio, a physical trait considered to be attractive in women. Meanwhile, men with more attractive voices tended to have a larger shoulder-to-hip ratio, which is deemed attractive in men.


What remains to be seen, however, is which among the three sensory factors--visual, auditory, and olfactory--is the most influential in determining who we find to be physically attractive.

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