Entries in attractiveness (32)


How Should You Part Your Hair to Look Better?

Photo Credit: ellebangsThere is a common belief that hair parted on the right side makes a person appear more feminine and warmer, while parts on the left give the impression of greater masculinity and competence. Researchers tested this assumption across three studies with a total of 3,819 participants, using digitally altered photos that kept every aspect of a person’s picture the same, except for the hair style. In all studies, hair part location did not significantly influence perceptions of appearance. This was true for both women and men, and for a variety of expressions (e.g., neutral, smiling). Ultimately it appears that how you part your hair does not have a meaningful influence on your appearance.

Frimer, J. A. (2018). Does the left hair part look better (or worse) than the right? Social Psychological and Personality Science. Online first March 23, 2018. doi.org/10.1177/1948550618762500 


Mixing it Up: The Upside of Interracial Relationships

In the summer of 2013, General Mills did something apparently unthinkable: they depicted an interracial (i.e., mixed-race) couple and their biracial daughter in a Cheerios ad. Despite being almost 50 years removed from the landmark civil rights Supreme Court ruling in Loving v Virginia, which legalized interracial marriage, the backlash observed in response to the Cheerios ad reminded all who were paying attention just how stigmatized and polarizing the topic of interracial relationships remains. In fact, when I typed the following into a google search window:

Why are int

The first search to populate the search was “Why are interracial relationships bad?” (Note: Results may vary by region, but I had never previously conducted this search).

Interestingly, although most people are aware that support from society, particularly family and friends, for one’s relationship is a key component (i.e., generally necessary, but not necessarily sufficient) of a healthy, satisfying romance, the prevalence of interracial relationships and marriages has increased dramatically over the past 40 years.

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The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Marriage or Fling? Desiring Different Partners for Different Relationships

If you’re single (and even if you’re not) are you on the look-out for someone to marry, a one night stand, or something in between? In this episode Robert Burriss explores how the type of relationship we seek can influence our mating behaviour and psychology.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.


From Bratz to Natural Beauties

In a previous article, I wrote about how both men and women prefer those who display neotenous (i.e., baby-like) features over adult features and rate those who exhibit them as more attractive.So what happens when toymakers manipulate these baby-like features to give off a sexualized vibe? Enter, the Bratz dolls.

Bratz, owned by MGA Entertainment, is a line of dolls that is very popular with today’s children. Bratz have seen a great deal of controversy in their time on the market, as they are often scantily clad and heavily made up.

The American Psychological Association (APA) formed the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls in response to public concern over the growing problem of sexualization of children and adolescent females. Researchers have found that it is often females upon which sexuality is imposed, especially in the media.

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Is It Better to “Date Up” or Play Within Your Own League?

If you were to take 100 single people, all looking for a relationship, and put them in a room together for an evening, who would end up together? Although there are a myriad of factors that lead individuals to form romantic attachments, a longstanding theory in relationship science makes a simple prediction. Specifically, the matching hypothesis predicts that people will pair up with a partner who has the same social mate value.1 Your social mate value includes all of the factors that go into making you more or less desirable to date such as your physical attractiveness, your personality, etc. Essentially, according to the matching hypothesis, if you are a “7” out of 10 in terms of mate value you’ll end up with another “7,” or very close.  “10’s” go with “10’s,” “2’s” with “2’s” and so on.

Perhaps due to the matching hypothesis’s intuitive appeal, the field of social psychology has largely accepted it as true, despite a general lack of empirical support. To address this gap between theory and data, researchers from the University of California – Berkeley tested the matching hypothesis across several studies.

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The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - Is Beauty Contagious?

Robert Burriss discusses how the average attractiveness of a group of people is influenced by its members. Also, how the ratio of men to women in our social group meddles with our mating psychology.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.


Your Self-Perceived Relationship Desirability Influences Your Self-Esteem

Your self-esteem depends in part on your internal “sociometer,” or how socially accepted you feel. To test the importance of social acceptance within romantic relationships (i.e., a “mating sociometer”), researchers measured participants’ self-esteem, self-perceived attractiveness, and romantic self-confidence (“I have no difficulty maintaining a satisfying romantic relationship”). Greater self-perceived attractiveness increased romantic self-confidence, which produced higher self-esteem. It seems looking good makes you more confident about your ability to attract and maintain relationships, which bodes well for your self-esteem.

Bale, C., & Archer, J. (2013). Self-perceived attractiveness, romantic desirability and self-esteem: A mating sociometer perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 11(1), 68-84.


The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast

We want to take a moment to turn you on to an awesome podcast produced by our colleague and fellow ScienceOfRelationships.com contributor, Dr. Robert Burriss. Rob is a research fellow at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK, and we love his podcast, which is filled with sharp humor, tie-ins to current events, and most importantly, excellent sexy science. We'll be featuring new episodes when they are released, and you can check out some of the recent episodes below: 

If prefer to read rather than listen, transcripts are available here. 

Check out Rob's ScienceOfRelationships.com articles here.


Men With Babies: Getting Women’s Phone Numbers is Child’s Play

Are males seen as more attractive if they’re good with babies? To answer this question, a male confederate sat near college-aged women who were alone in public. His “sister” (a female confederate) and her baby then joined him. The male either interacted with the baby by talking, playing, smiling and giving kisses, or ignored the baby. After his sister left, the male struck up a conversation with the female participants, complimented them, and then asked for her digits. When the male played with the baby, 40% of the women gave him their phone numbers compared to only 12% who gave him their phone numbers when he ignored the baby. 

Guéguen, N. (2014). Cues of men's parental investment and attractiveness for women: A field experiment. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 24(3), 296-300. doi:10.1080/10911359.2013.820160


Time Flies When Your Partner Is Cute…At Least for a While

Have you ever had a lunch date that just seemed to fly by? Or a coffee date where you were counting the minutes until you could make an excuse and leave? You might guess that conversing with someone attractive can make a difference in whether or not time seems to drag. However, attractiveness may not play the role you expect!

Researchers tested the role of attractiveness in time-perception with a series of experiments.1 In one of the experiments, strangers were asked to converse freely (unscripted) over Skype, an application that allows text, voice, and video chatting over the Internet. For brevity, we’ll focus only on this Skype experiment below.

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The “Cheerleader Effect” (Yes, It Exists)

You gotta love when pop culture inspires scientific research. Motivated by one of my favorite TV shows, How I Met Your Mother, the authors of a recent paper published in Psychological Science1 investigated Barney Stinson’s claim that people appear more attractive when surrounded by others in a group relative to when they are viewed by themselves. He calls this the “Cheerleader Effect,” inspired by the stereotype that cheerleader groups seem very attractive because of how they appear in groups/teams, even though individual cheerleaders are not more attractive than average.

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Conquering Contrast Effects: The Strong Survive and the Weak Shall Perish 

Ever catch your partner checking out an attractive stranger on the street? Ever notice all of the good-looking opposite-sex friends your partner has accumulated on Facebook? Such things might seem harmless, but these “beautiful” people may actually make us less appealing to our partners, due to what researchers refer to as contrast effects. Contrast effects occur when something looks better or worse depending on what we compare to it. In this case, you could look less attractive to your partner when compared to someone else that is more attractive, whether that person is a sexy passerby, a good-looking co-worker, or even someone featured in erotic material. (Read more about contrast effects here.) 

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Curves Ahead: The Science of Female Waist-to-Hip Ratio and Attractiveness  

Semi-renowned armchair relationship expert Sir Mix-a-Lot once said, “So Cosmo says you're fat, well I ain't down with that! 'Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin' …To the beanpole dames in the magazines: You ain't it, Miss Thing!” What Mr. Mix-a-Lot so melodically points out is that women’s attractiveness does not rely on thinness, but rather the kickin’ nature of her curves. In fact, for women there’s a universal formula -- the waist-to-hip ratio -- that contributes to how attractive males find females’ bodies.

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The Science of the 'Stache: Give It a Grow This Movember

This month is “Movember,” an international movement to raise awareness about men’s health, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. Men participating in “Movember” grow moustaches and raise money to fund cancer education and research.1 Yet, Movember may have an added benefit for relationships: women rate men with a full beard as more masculine, socially mature, dominant, and aggressive than they rate clean-shaven men. However, men with light stubble fare best on ratings of attractiveness and desirability for short-term and long-term relationships.2 Historically, men tend to grow facial hair during years that competition for mates is more intense (for example, moustaches were particularly popular in the early 1900s, based on images in the Illustrated London News),3 suggesting that facial hair fashion trends are attuned to the effect facial hair has on women’s judgments.

Click on the image to supersize it!

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Hot Guys and Bad Decisions: Male Attractiveness and Women’s Judgments of Sexual Risk

Do hot guys lead women to make risky sexual choices? To test this, college women rated 40 pictures of college-aged males for attractiveness, willingness to have sex with him with a condom, willingness to have sex without a condom, and his likelihood of having a sexually transmitted infection (STI). When women were willing to have sex with a guy with a condom, they were also willing to have unprotected sex with him. Women were also more willing to have unprotected sex with physically attractive males, but also rated them as more likely to have an STI—a potentially dangerous combination.

Lennon, C. A., & Kenny, D. A., (2013). The role of men’s physical attractiveness in women’s perceptions of sexual risk: Danger or allure? Journal of Health Psychology, 18, 1166-1176. image source: madamenoire.com


Save Your Money to Increase Your Attractiveness 

image source: aiyelpost.com/finance/simple-livingMoney has a funny way of finding its way into close relationships. Previously we've discussed how money makes you a worse parent, how it can make people less sensitive to others, and how men are more likely to go into debt to compete for mates. Research shows that a people view those who save their money as more attractive than those who spend their money. You can read more about how being a saver influences perceptions of things like workout habits over at MarketWatch. 


Men: Play Guitar to Get a Date?

I was recently talking to a (male) friend from college, reminiscing about how all the guys in the dorms wanted to learn how to play guitar because we thought that it would increase our odds of landing a lady. Is it really true that women find guitar players attractive? Two recent studies have attempted to answer this question.

The first study, conducted in France, enlisted a young male research assistant who was highly attractive.1 He was not aware of the study’s hypotheses. His task was to systematically approach 300 similarly-aged women who were walking alone across a particular walkway and passing him (that is, he was told not to select only women he was attracted to). When a woman walked by, he asked for her phone number, saying that he would like to call her later so that they could go out and get a drink together.

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Shave It Off! Baldness Boosts Your Manly Image

Bald may or may not be beautiful, but it definitely is manly according to recent research.1 Participants were asked to rate photographs of men who either had a full head of hair or a shaven head (the hair was digitally edited away). The bald versions of men were consistently rated as more dominant than the men with full locks.  The men with shaved scalps were also perceived as taller, older, and stronger, but less attractive, than their full-haired counterparts. Consistent with prior findings, participants rated men with thinning hair least favorably on all attributes.

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Increasing Your Ability to Get a Date: Dude, It’s Your Car 

image source: autoevolution.comLadies, would a guy’s car influence whether you give him your number? In a recent study, male confederates (guys in cahoots with the researchers) approached over 500 young women who were walking in a city. To test whether a males’ car affected women’s likelihood of sharing their digits, the male confederates waited in one of three cars (high, medium, or low value) before getting out and approaching the women. Men with a high status car were more likely to get a number (23.3%) than men with middle (12.8%) or low status cars (7.8%). Apparently women use the car that a guy drives as a clue to his income, his status, and to whether he is worth dating.

Guéguen, N., & Lamy, L. (2012). Men’s social status and attractiveness: Women’s receptivity to men’s date requests. Swiss Journal of Psychology/Schweizerische Zeitschrift Für Psychologie/Revue Suisse De Psychologie, 71(3), 157-160. doi:10.1024/1421-0185/a000083


Underdogs: They’re Hot

People often think that successful people are attractive. But what about their less successful counterparts? Are they destined to be seen as less attractive? In a study involving hypothetical job applicants, those candidates described as being “underdogs” -- i.e., they were unlikely to get a particular job due to unfair circumstances beyond their control (e.g., their application had been misplaced by a secretary) -- were rated as especially physically attractive and desirable to date compared to candidates who were (a) unfairly advantaged (i.e., had a friend pressuring the employer to hire them) or (b) were unlikely to get the job due to their own incompetence (i.e., they failed to follow directions on the job application). That’s right…being an underdog can be hot if your failures are not your own fault.

Michniewicz, K. S., & Vandello, J. A. (in press). The attractive underdog: When disadvantage bolsters attractiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.