Psychology

Factors that Influence Physical Attractiveness



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We all know that feeling.  The feeling you get when you see someone you’re attracted to.  But have you ever stopped to think exactly why you’re getting that feeling from that particular person and not from another?  We know what about them we’re attracted to, some things we know more obviously than others, but why are we attracted to those features?  This understanding is easy to come by if you take a step back and appreciate the survival of the fittest.  Believe it or not, but from features on the face to those considered a bit more risqué, everything we are attracted to has a unique history of being beneficial to humankind.

If you ask the average man what makes a woman physically attractive, you can probably guess what he’d say before you even ask.  Follow up with a question about why he thinks, say; a young face is more attractive than an older, he will most likely not give an answer beyond that it just is.  As we scan the world around us, and in particular, the people in it, our brains are constantly making calculations that we are unaware of. 

When a man lays eyes on a woman, the instinctive brain makes it aware to his consciousness if he should be attracted to her or not.  This part of our brain largely considers past experience from over a million years of human evolution.  A man is attracted to a certain waist to hip ratio because it shows to him that the women is capable of healthy childbearing. A man is attracted to a younger face because it shows him that she will be alive long enough to raise his children, as the life expectancy of the past was much, much lower.

For a woman, broad shoulders and a large chest shows her that a man can protect her children from predators. Some aspects of physical attractiveness are much more vague.   Our bodies produce actual smells that indicate to our potential lover that our immune systems are a good match to make a healthy child.

Just about everything that we are attracted to can ultimately be explained by promoting the survival of humankind.  Of course, society has its own influence, and occasionally blows some things out of proportion.  This type of influence can lead many to insecurity, which leads to self-loathing or unnatural changes.  In my opinion, it is best to trust our instincts than to be judgmental of things created by society’s standards.  Nevertheless, both Darwinian evolution and society are factors of physical attraction.

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