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The Science of Physical Attractiveness: 5 Key Conclusions

Aka What Is Attractive, According to Science

By BurkPublished about a year ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read

Attraction is an instinct deeply rooted in our animal nature. While it may vary to some extent, certain aspects of physical attractiveness are inherent to our species. Both men and women exhibit unique traits of attractiveness, encompassing physical characteristics and inner qualities. Through scientific studies, five key traits of physical attractiveness have emerged.


Height is a classic factor that influences physical attractiveness in both men and women. Research conducted by Rice University and the University of North Texas indicates that while men do not have a conclusive preference for female height, women generally prefer taller male partners. The study revealed that 37 percent of men surveyed expressed a desire to date only shorter women, while 55 percent of women preferred dating men taller than themselves.

Side note: Taller individuals, regardless of gender, tend to earn more money, as attractive people also experience a 15% increase in their earnings.

Leg Length:

Leg length is an important factor contributing to attractiveness in both women and men, as determined by a study conducted by Polish scientists from the University of Wrocław. The experiment involved presenting 218 male and female participants with photos of individuals exhibiting various leg lengths, all adjusted to appear comparable in overall height. The study found that individuals with shorter legs were perceived as less attractive, whereas those with legs approximately 5% longer than the "average" were considered most attractive.

Facial Features: Symmetry and Skin:

Facial symmetry plays a significant role in determining attractiveness, according to a study published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. The researchers manipulated photos of faces to enhance symmetry, and raters consistently preferred the more symmetrical versions. This suggests that facial symmetry influences mating choices and implies a biological basis for these preferences. Additionally, studies conducted worldwide have established that the condition of the face and skin contributes to attractiveness. Clear and even skin is associated with health, youthfulness, and a perceived sense of flawlessness. However, the color of the skin is not a primary factor in determining attractiveness, although cultural stigmas surrounding skin color do impact attraction psychology.

Proportions and the Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR):

Body proportions significantly impact attractiveness in both men and women, as is observed in the animal kingdom. The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) plays a crucial role in physical attractiveness. For men, an ideal ratio falls between 0.9 and 1, while for women, it sits at 0.7. WHR is calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. For instance, a 0.72 ratio is considered attractive for women. Interestingly, WHR is not only linked to physical beauty but is also associated with health issues like type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, particularly in cases of overweight and obesity.

Femininity and Masculinity:

The degree to which individual features are pronounced contributes to the overall physical attractiveness of both men and women. For example, women with full and luscious lips are considered very attractive, while men with the same lip features are not. Conversely, men with strong chins and defined jawlines are perceived as attractive, whereas women with these traits are considered less so.


Physical attractiveness is just one aspect of overall attraction, with inner qualities carrying equal importance. However, our animal and biological nature cannot be denied. Physical features have always played a significant role in attractiveness and will continue to do so. Rather than solely focusing on immutable aspects of attractiveness, it is essential to enhance the qualities within our control, such as kindness, confidence, humor, determination, fitness, nutrition choices, and self-care. As C.M. Waggoner aptly wrote:

"Prettiness is lent to you by youth; attractiveness is purchased with experience."


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About the Creator


Dad of 5.

Full-time writer from Germany.

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