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What Makes a Person Attractive?

What Makes a Person Attractive?

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Physical appearance is not the only thing that is attractive to others. As youths, we wondered how attractive we were. Most of us tended to obsess about our clothes, skin, hair, and generally how “cool” we looked.

Back then, it seemed as if our physical characteristics were all that mattered. After all, the nicknames and teasing by others generally focused on physical characteristics such as the shape of our nose, eyes, weight, height, and other bodily features. Getting through those years was a challenge for most of us! More recently, however, social scientists have come to understand that physical appearance is not the only aspect of ourselves that is attractive to others. Our personalities influence how other people see us. In addition, our confidence, emotions, and social ease determine how we are perceived by the people around us.

An Important Question
More than a decade ago, two researchers (Mehrabian and Blum, 1997) began their research with a simple idea. They wondered what physical features were the most attractive to the opposite sex. In essence, they posed the question of what combination of characteristics make someone attractive and desirable to another person. Was it body type, personality, posture, grooming or any of hundreds of different features?

The answers to their research question may be surprising. Their results should also make us realize how much control we have over how other people see us. This is an important question since much of our self-esteem is often based on feedback from other people. It’s especially important for those who may not feel good about how they think they are seen by others. This includes people with and without spinal-cord injury (SCI).Important Features
The surprising results of this study pointed out that, by far, the most attractive features of a person fall under the category of “self care.” Specifically the research showed it didn’t matter how often you went to the gym or whether you had a straight nose or eyes that were crossed. Physical characteristics were not high on the list. The most important features were characteristics people had control over like good grooming, neat hair, nice-fitting clothing, good posture and a healthy weight.

To put it in a nutshell, this study showed that what made men and women desirable was if they put forth the effort to take a shower, groom, select nice clothing, look people in the eye, and manage their diet a bit. These were all things people could control if they had the interest in changing. In addition to these “changeable factors,” the Mehrabian and Blum study identified other factors that were about a third as important as the above features. These included masculinity, femininity, and attitude. In this regard, women were attracted to men who did regular exercise and worked to stay healthy.

In contrast, men found women attractive if they had longer hair, wore makeup, and demonstrated femininity in their posture, facial expression and body language. Men and women were attracted to others who were happy, positive and friendly in their attitude toward other people.

More Control
This study and others like it show you have more control over how other people see you than you may have thought. What makes you attractive as a person is the effort you put into your appearance and attitude. Putting forth that sense of confidence, friendliness and social ease can make all the difference in the world.

Here are a few easy and practical tips to consider:
–  Grooming: The most important feature in determining how other people will see you is the effort you put into your personal hygiene. Be clean, neat, smell good, style your hair, shave, and brush your teeth. All those things mom used to tell you to do will make a difference in your attractiveness to other people.

–  Clothing: This is another simple thing you have complete control over. Studies show your clothes need to be clean, well fitting and maintained. Don’t be chronically underdressed. Be snazzy and show a bit of classiness in your choice of clothing. People will notice. Your clothes make a statement about you and how you feel about yourself.

– Posture: If you use a chair, sit as straight as you can. Put your shoulders back and keep your head up. Look people in the eye and smile. Do a little experiment and check out how people react to you when they see you with a grin or a little smile. You may be surprised.

– Accentuate your masculinity or femininity: Strut your masculinity a little bit by doing something like growing a goatee or beard or wearing clothes that show your muscles. To be more feminine, learn to properly apply makeup, accentuating your eyes and lips. Try other things such as growing your hair longer or using extensions.

Simple Things
Taking charge of your appearance can influence whether other people perceive you as attractive. With a little effort and attention to detail, you may be surprised to find out just how much people will notice you and how differently they may respond to you.

Sometimes, it’s the simple things that can make a big difference. Who knows, you may even feel a little differently about yourself in the process.

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