What makes someone sexy? Here’s what the research says

Each year, People The magazine chooses the Sexiest Man Aliveand while the title often causes much debate (no Ryan Gosling? seriously?), there’s no doubt that previous winners like Channing Tatum and Michael B. Jordan, as well as this year’s Patrick Dempsey, have far more sex appeal than the average Joe.

However, sex appeal isn’t always something you can gauge just by looking at someone. And there are even scientific reasons why someone is considered more attractive than the other person. Here’s what we know about what makes a sexy person.

Symmetrical faces are desirable – as are clearly male or female faces

You may have heard that you can judge a person’s attractiveness by how evenly both sides of their face match. One theory was that symmetrical faces could indicate better health and therefore we subconsciously assume that person is better suited to carry on our genes. However, research from Brunel University London in 2014 suggests that this is probably not the case and that people may prefer symmetrical faces, just as we prefer symmetry in art and design.

But there’s another factor to consider: According to a 2017 study from Oakland University in Michigan, heterosexual men were more attracted to faces that were considered more feminine, while heterosexual women were more attracted to faces that were considered more masculine. This was true even when the faces were less symmetrical – and less healthy looking – when they were male or female.

Funny people are sexy

There may be an amusing reason why the likes of Paul Rudd and Ryan Reynolds were crowned Peopleis the “Sexiest Man Alive.” A 2017 research study that used speed dating as a method found that people who were considered funny were also viewed as more attractive than when first assessed by researchers who were initially unaware of their sense of humor.

Conversely, the same research showed that the people who were found to be not funny were also described as less attractive.

Your genes could be sexy

This may at least be true when looking for a partner. Sara Seabrooke, co-founder and scientific director of Instant chemistry, told Yahoo Life in 2016 that genes in our immune system contribute to how physically attractive someone appears to us. That’s because these genes contribute to how our bodies smell, and “the better the person smells to us, the more likely they are to be biologically compatible.”

In addition to finding each other more attractive, biologically compatible partners also tend to have more satisfying sex lives and greater stability in their relationship, Seabrooke explained.

Playing hard to get is sexy – up to a point

Research results from the University of Rochester, published in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2020 found that playing “hard to get” increases a person’s attractiveness. One theory is that people want to date someone who has the most mate value possible, and if someone is a little too eager it can be perceived as unattractively desperate.

However, there is a delicate balance: Previous research It was also found that people who believed their potential partner was interested in them made more effort to see the person again than when they were unsure of their affection.

According to study co-author Harry Reis, the key may be to withhold the information you share about yourself to build a sense of anticipation—not to appear disinterested or arrogant.

Surprising personality traits make people sexy – but that varies depending on where you live

A 2015 survey A survey of 10,000 men and women around the world found that qualities such as vulnerability, courage, individuality and honesty are viewed as extremely attractive. Which characteristic was rated highest depended on who was interviewed. Europeans valued compassion most, Asians valued spirituality, and Australians valued courage most. North Americans found ambition to be the hottest quality.


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