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Science Says It’s More Than How You Look that Makes You Attractive

Science Says It’s More Than How You Look that Makes You Attractive

Attractiveness is more than just physical beauty. It is a magnetic force that pulls people together, connecting people of different sizes and shapes. Since attractiveness contributes to such spontaneous encounters, if you are looking for a golden rule, you would be disappointed.

Yet in fact, it is good that you would be disappointed. As the American best-selling self-help author and motivational speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer argues, “The law of attraction is this: You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.” Birds of a feather flock together. So the good news is, we do not need to change ourselves to fit a social ideal in order to be more attractive. Instead, Science says, what is most important is to develop our own personality and have the desire to engage in deep relationships with other people.

1. Music Cultivates Individuality

In a 2014 study, researchers asked about 1,500 individuals (whose average age was 28) to rate the attractiveness of different composers according to the music they make. The results showed that people preferred music that is more complicated in style and structure. They also say that they would more likely develop long term relationships with those who compose more complex music.

Music is a tool for expression. Our personality and tastes develop as we explore different kinds of music. So it might be a good idea for you to start varying your choice of music and even learn new musical instruments!

2. Extreme Sports Strengthen Mind and Body

Extreme sports can train both our bodies and minds to make us stronger persons, thus making us more attractive. According to a 2014 study led by researchers at the University of Alaska at Anchorage for example, it is discovered that those who take “hunter-gatherer risks” are generally considered to be more attractive.

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Hunter-gatherer risks are similar to the risks faced by ancestral humans. They include mountain biking, deep-sea scuba diving, and extreme rollerblading. 

3. Confidence Gives Us Good Sense of Humour

Our fear of not fitting in makes us boring. Hence, the key to be attractive and have a good sense of humour is to accept ourselves as who we are.

Multiple scientific studies for example indicate that people are more attracted to those who can make them laugh.

In one small study, a psychologist asked three men to tell a joke to their friends while a woman sat at a nearby table. They were then instructed to approach the woman and ask for her number. Results showed that the guys who joked were three times as likely to get the woman’s number. They were also rated more attractive and intelligent by the woman.

“The effect of a great sense of humor on women’s attractions might be partially explained by the fact that funny people are considered to be more social and more intelligent, things that women seek in a mate,” anthropologist Gil Greengross writes.

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4. Having Good Friends Makes Us Attractive

It is not enough just to develop our individuality. In order to be more attractive, we should surround ourselves with friends. This is not only because our friends can have positive influence on us and make our personalities more attractive, a 2014 study from the University of California at San Diego found that people look better in a group.

In one experiment, people were assigned to look at the faces of men and women, once in a group photo and once in an isolated portrait. Results showed that participants rated both men and women significantly more attractive when they were pictured in a group.

One possibility is: our brains take the faces of a group in aggregate, hence making each face more “average”– and therefore attractive.

“Having a few wingmen or wingwomen may indeed be a good dating strategy, particularly if their facial features complement and average out one’s unattractive idiosyncrasies,” study authors Drew Walker and Edward Vul write.

5. A Person’s Most Attractive Trait is Their Availability

When talking about attractiveness, we usually think about appearance and personalities. However, research shows that a person’s most attractive trait is their availability. The more readily available we are for deep relationships, the more attractive we are.

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In dating, it is more about physical availability. But this is not enough. Long-term romantic partners is about emotional availability: “Will this person open up to me?” Openness to engage in deeper relationships is also important in friendship.

In business it is about economic and intellectual availability. “Will this person work with me?”

This is because everyone, including the people we appeal to, desire connection and intimate relationships. Everyone has the mutual fear of being rejected. Availability can therefore open up our doors to other people and render us more attractive.

6. Open Up Yourself for Deeper Conversations

In a 1997 study, State University of New York psychologist Arthur Aron and colleagues designed two sets of questions for two groups of undergrads to guide their conversations. One question set was small talk, and the other included deeper questions. The people who asked deeper questions felt more connected. One couple even fell in love.

Deeper conversations allow us to develop our personalities and better understand ourselves and each other. Hence, the more we desire to open up for deeper conversations, the more attractive we become.

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7. A Simple Smile Makes One More Beautiful

Ultimately, beauty comes from our heart. Two experiments in Switzerland found that the stronger a person smile, the more attractive his/ her face looked. A happy facial expression can even compensate for relative unattractiveness.

Another study called “Happy Guys Finish Last: The Impact of Emotion Expressions on Sexual Attraction” that was published in Emotion also discover that happiness is the most attractive emotion in females.

Hence, a simple smile can make one more beautiful and attractive.

Featured photo credit: Portrait of a young beautiful asian woman unhappy on trees background, vintage style via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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