Features that attract people the most


You’d be surprised what the
world of science has figured out when it comes to romance. One minute, science
is launching Neil Armstrong across the void to walk on the moon. The next, it’s
telling you exactly how to land your fantasy date. Contrary to popular belief,
love and attraction is less like a romance novel, and a whole lot more like a
psychology journal. Here’s what science says is working behind the scenes when
Cupid’s arrow strikes.

Your lips

Forget about flaunting your
curves for a minute. Results from a study at Manchester University found that
lips are a woman’s most attractive physical attribute. When you think about how
much ladies like Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson are lusted after, it’s
tough to argue against it. For extra credit, pink and red lipstick were found
to hold a man’s attention even longer. When in doubt, go red—it’s a classic and
it works.
Strong eye contact

Forget that saying about the
eyes being the window to the soul, because they’re also the door to keeping a
lover’s attention. Turns out your pupils dilate a little more when you’re
attracted to someone. The kicker? People are apparently super attracted to
dilated pupils. Lesson learned: never miss an opportunity to fixate your eyes
at your intended bae.

Pearly whites

Research suggests that
straight, white teeth are more attractive, and it’s safe to assume that most
folks don’t prefer yellow, rotting teeth. We shouldn’t even have to tell you
this, but brush, floss, and visit your dentist regularly. You’d be surprised
how many people don’t maintain dental hygiene. It’s one of those subconscious
signals of health and fertility that evolution so craftily tucked into our DNA
to help us survive. Thanks, evolution — now pay for our Invisalign!
Smiling like an emoji

When we say smiling like an
emoji, we’re talking about the happy-face kind, not the
inappropriate-but-well-timed eggplant. One study suggests that men are
significantly more attracted to women who smile. It’s not like you’ll be
reeling them in with a grimace.
A higher-pitched voice

High-pitched voices are
apparently sexier. Researchers suggest it’s because higher voices suggest a
smaller body size, which our society deems more attractive. We all know the
truth: helium fetish. While we’re on the topic, keep in mind that cigarettes
won’t help your cause as they have a tendency to deepen your voice (and yellow
your teeth. And, you know, cause cancer).
The hips don’t lie

To make things more confusing,
even though men appear to be attracted to smaller body types in the previous
slide’s study, apparently both Shakira and Sir Mix-a-Lot were also right.
Researchers found that men preferred larger hip-to-waist ratios than smaller
ones. Call us crazy, but we’ve chosen to conclude that this means all body
types are beautiful and attractive.
Make them see red

This study of color
stereotypes included two photos of the exact same woman. She wore blue in one
picture and red in the other, posing the same way in both. According to the
results, the photo of the woman in red was rated as more attractive and
sexually desirable. Furthermore, the men of the study indicated they would be
more willing to date the scarlet-clad woman and even spend more money on her.
Blue never stood a chance.

The body language of

If you’re sitting at a bar,
turn a little towards a guy you’re interested in. Leaning in, tilting your
head, and pointing your feet toward a person all subconsciously communicate
interest and engagement. Blushing signals attraction and is the body’s way of
gaining the attention of the opposite sex. So if you’re going out and planning
to mingle, don’t forget to put on a little blush before you go.
Facial symmetry

What might be the most
important feature, according to researchers, is something we can do very little
about: facial symmetry. This is when the left side of your face looks exactly
like the right side of your face and vice versa, with things matching up
perfectly from one side to another. Most celebrities and models have strong,
symmetrical faces. You can’t really change your facial symmetry unless you go
under the knife, and we don’t suggest trying it. If you happen to be blessed
with facial symmetry, thank your genes for the leg up. But if you don’t,
believe us, there are far more important things you can do to attract someone
(see the next slide re: confidence).
Confidence is key

Attraction isn’t all about
appearances, so don’t go thinking it’s all about winning the genetic lottery —
there are many things about your character that make you attractive.
Confidence, for one, can vastly increase your sex appeal. Confident people are
more apt to send off signals of interest. Send more signals out, and you’ll get
more signals back in return — just don’t make it desperate. Even if you’re not
the hottest person in the room, having the mindset that you are happy with who
you are can help make a better impression than a model with with low self-esteem.
In the same vein, there are
many other non-physical traits that are incredibly attractive. Read on to find
out what you can do to attract your soul mate.

Inscribed near the entrance of
the venerated ancient Greek Oracle at Delphi, “Know thyself”
continues to be good advice. Knowing yourself is the same idea as being
self-aware, since it involves understanding your own personality and character.
So what, exactly, is
self-awareness? Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of best-selling book
Emotional Intelligence, proposed the most popular definition of self-awareness
as “knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources and
intuitions,” although it can also cover a broad range of things including
your needs, desires, failings, habits, your likes and dislikes, preferences and
non-negotiables, what makes you angry or defensive, and, conversely, what makes
you happy. Basically, it encompasses all the things that help you answer the
universal question of “Who am I?”
Being more self-aware can
greatly improve self-confidence, since self-awareness enables us to clearly see
our strengths and weaknesses — which allows us to devote more time and energy
to doing what we’re good at (and who doesn’t like the warm fuzzies that come
with kicking butt at something?). This, in turn, increases our overall sense of
confidence (see: warm fuzzies).


When a person is authentic,
they’re not afraid to be themselves. You can recognize authenticity, both in
yourself and others, by traits such as having realistic perceptions of reality,
being accepting of themselves and of other people, being thoughtful, having a
non-hostile sense of humor, being able to express their emotions freely and
clearly, being open to learning from their mistakes, and understanding their
Authenticity, self-awareness,
and confidence are all closely linked, too. Chris Armstrong, a Certified
Relationship Coach, told me that the combination of authenticity and
vulnerability gives people the self-confidence to be open about who they are —
and comfortable with who they’re not. There are no pretenses with people like
this, and when people are able to be genuine, it helps them build deeper, more
meaningful connections with others.
When I spoke with Amanda Rose,
a matchmaker and dating expert, she said that “there’s something about a
person’s ability to be unfiltered and raw that creates connection, [and] when
we feel more connected to someone, the attraction level rises.” So go
ahead and let your quirks show! They’re endearing for those who know and love
you, and your authenticity will be attractive to those who don’t know you yet.


Being vulnerable entails
allowing yourself to be seen in a way that makes you uncomfortable: weaknesses,
flaws, insecurities, and all. When you’re being vulnerable, you choose not to
hide who you really are. The good and the bad, strong and weak… it’s all out in
the open. Being open, honest, and real, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable,
takes guts.
Even though vulnerability can
feel incredibly risky, it can also be deeply rewarding. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a
Los Angeles-based psychologist whose specialties include relationships and
self-esteem, told me that vulnerability — and being open about one’s flaws,
idiosyncrasies, and weaknesses — makes a person more relatable and human,
instead of coming across as too cold or too perfect.
And, if you’ll allow me to go
full fangirl for a moment, University of Houston researcher Brene Brown has
produced some amazing work on the benefits of vulnerability: “embracing
our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love
and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable,”
Brown wrote in her best-selling book Daring Greatly. And, if you want to feel
really inspired to become more vulnerable, check out Brown’s TED Talk on the
Power of Vulnerability. It’ll leave you feeling both verklempt and awestruck.

Remember how the previous
slide said that vulnerability takes guts? Well, courage (which is all about
guts) is also an attractive personality trait. Bravery — such as the
willingness to take calculated risks (that is to say: risks that aren’t
reckless, so please don’t try to hold onto the back of a moving vehicle while
riding your bike), Thomas told me that the ability to stand up for yourself and
others, and a willingness to do things that are intimidating — conveys
emotional resiliency and strength.
Openness to experience and

Openness to experience is
another hallmark of attraction. Marked by creativity, intellect, imagination,
and curiosity, open individuals enjoy learning new things, are inquisitive
about the world around them, and are interested in new experiences. Now, this
doesn’t mean you have to take up skydiving or go out and party every weekend
(I, for one, am terrified of skydiving and would much rather spend the evening
at home with a book). The question is more about how curious you are about the
world around you — for example, different cultures, new places, new activities,
or different restaurants — and your willingness to try them.
A good example of this is an
ill-fated date my dad went on before he met my mom: he was all excited to try
out a new Jewish deli in town, and the woman he took there for their first date
proceeded to order a plain hamburger with ketchup and was visibly shaken by all
the unfamiliar foods on the menu. As a guy who grew up in the New York City
suburbs, would order food from just about any restaurant in the world, and
loves trying new things, my dad knew a second date would never happen long
before his Reuben sandwich arrived.

One big benefit of openness to
experience, as well as curiosity, is that they make us more empathetic and help
us to form bonds with others, since making an effort to understand the lives of
people who are different helps us to expand our worldview and become more
accepting of those differences. When we create deeper connections with the
people we meet, our interest in their lives of others will likely lead to
reciprocated interest — they’ll want to know more about you, and the connection
grows from there.
Be a giver

The whole point of attracting
someone is that you want to share your experiences with them. It’s no surprise,
therefore, that being selfish is definitely not a turn on. In fact, the exact
opposite is true. Studies have shown that people are more attracted to those
with a generous spirit.
So get out there, open your
heart, and be a giver! Volunteer to read to senior citizens. Organize a food
drive. Donate money to charity. You’ll be doing something good for those around
you, while also becoming more attractive in the process. It’s a win-win!
Show off your playful side

There’s an old saying:
“you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” So, if
you’re trying to catch someone’s attention, some researchers suggest you
indulge your sweet, playful side instead. After all, who doesn’t want to have
more fun?
Life can be so serious and
stressful sometimes, which makes it even more important to shake off the
negativity and have a good time. So, the next time you’re feeling silly, just
go with it. Get down in the dirt, dance in the rain, and throw your head back
and laugh from your core. You’ll feel amazing and people will be drawn to you.
Be the brainiac

There are countless movies
built on the premise that no one wants to date a nerd… but maybe those
out-of-touch Hollywood producers have it all wrong. According to actual
research, we are scientifically wired to be attracted to intelligent people.
That’s right, folks. Being
smart is a highly desirable quality, so stop dumbing yourself down! Dust off
your library cards, take your board games and microscopes out from under your
bed, and embrace your big, beautiful brain openly and with pride.
Remember: romance doesn’t have
to be the endgame

Ok, so: I know this piece
focuses on attraction, both physical and emotional, in the context of romantic
relationships, but we can probably all agree that 1) that different traits are
attractive to different people and 2) that romance isn’t the be-all and end-all
of adult life.
To the first point, while
studies have shown that men are attracted to specific physical traits like big
hips or luscious lips or a high-pitched voice, it certainly doesn’t apply to
all the dudes out there. I’ll use myself as a case in point: I have dark hair,
a decidedly not high-pitched voice (some might even call it husky), and an
athletic build. While these fundamental, unalterable traits quickly ruled out
the menfolk who prefer petite blondes (in the interest of full disclosure, I
did spend a few years feeling crappy about my soccer thighs and dark brown
locks), I haven’t exactly spent my life in a nunnery. I eventually married a
man who loves how I look, and it turns out he was particularly drawn to my
muscles and dark hair. It just goes to show that what men find attractive is
totally subjective, and beauty, as the cliché goes, is very much in the eye of
the beholder.
Adding to which: while finding
a romantic partner is definitely something many people want, in no way does it
measure your worth or success (even though HOLY EFF does it ever feel like that
sometimes). Women in particular are often fed the implicit message that we need
to change ourselves to become worthy of men’s attention and affection. And
that, if I may say so, is total BS.
Instead, you can use the
character traits above to help you build a life that you love — with or without
a partner. Cultivating traits like self-awareness, vulnerability, authenticity,
courage, openness to experience, and empathy can help you in all facets of
life, both personal and professional. They can help you build a social network
of friends you adore, create work you find meaningful, travel to places that
excite you, and seek out experiences that help you grow. From that point, it’s
safe to say that relationships are likely to follow, and yet even if they
don’t, what’s most important is that you are able to be proud of who you are
and the life you live.
Here’s to building a life that
makes you happy, and all the benefits that come from it!

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.