According to the research, your hormones, interests, and upbringing all help determine who you fall for and who falls for you.
Partners who are similar in broad dispositions, like personality, are more likely to feel the same way in their day-to-day lives, said Gian Gonzaga, lead author of a study of couples who met on eHarmony.
We found that women born to old parents (over 30) were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with young parents (under 30), the authors wrote.
Love is mysterious, but it’s probably not destiny.
According to the research, your hormones, interests, and upbringing all help determine who you fall for — and who falls for you.
Since your partner plays a significant role in your long-term health, happiness, and even your career prospects, we’ve scoured the studies and collected some of the psychological reasons two people click.
This is an updated version of an article originally written by Maggie Zhang.
If you’re really, really alike
Decades of studies have shown that the cliché that “opposites attract” is totally off.
“Partners who are similar in broad dispositions, like personality, are more likely to feel the same way in their day-to-day lives,” said Gian Gonzaga, lead author of a study of couples who met on eHarmony. “This may make it easier for partners to understand each other.”
If you look like their opposite-sex parent
University of St Andrews psychologist David Perrett and his colleagues found that some people are attracted to folks with the same hair and eye color of their opposite-sex parents, as well as the age range they saw at birth.
“We found that women born to ‘old’ parents (over 30) were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with ‘young’ parents (under 30),” the authors wrote. “For men, preferences for female faces were influenced by their mother’s age and not their father’s age, but only for long-term relationships.”
If you smell right
A University of Southern California study of women who were ovulating suggested that some prefer the smell of t-shirts worn by men with high levels of testosterone.
This matched with other hormone-based instincts: Some women also preferred men with a strong jaw line when they were ovulating.
If you keep your hands and torso open
Keeping your hands stuffed in your pockets and your shoulders turned inward sends the signal that you’re not interested. But talking with your hands and standing in an open stance shows that you’re available.
If you stare into each others’ eyes for two minutes
University of Massachusetts psychologist Joan Kellerman asked 72 unacquainted undergrads to pair off and stare into each others eyes for two minutes.
“They later reported they had increased feelings of passionate love and affection towards the other person,” Scientific American reports. “This suggests that long periods of eye contact can connect you to someone and even ignite feelings of love inside you for that person you have never previously met.”
If you literally ‘warm’ your date up
Yale psychologist John Bargh performed an experiment in which participants held warm or cold beverages and had to rate whether someone’s personality was warm or cold. Participants who held warm beverages judged the person to have a warm personality, because their minds were already primed to think that way.
If you take someone on a coffee date instead of an ice cream date, they may feel more warmly toward you.
If you own a dog
In a University of Michigan experiment, women read vignettes about men. Whenever the story featured a person who owned a dog, women rated them with higher long-term attractiveness.
This is because, researchers have hypothesized, pet ownership could signal nurturance or a tendency toward relationship commitment. It could also make you appear more relaxed, approachable, and happy.
If they are less or equally good-looking
In a 1996 study, each participant was rated on physical attractiveness and then randomly assigned to date another participant. Then, participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with their dates. The participants who were more attractive were harsher in their judgments — even if they were both equally attractive. The better looking someone was, the less satisfied they were likely to be.
But this only applies to the really attractive people. For the rest of us, according to the matching hypothesis, we are more likely to love those who are equally as attractive as us.
If you get Botox
In a European study about facial age and attractiveness, researchers wanted to determine whether Botox actually does help women find partners.
The women who went through facial procedures experienced a significant reduction in perceived age, and people rated them as much more attractive and healthy. The more treatments the women received, the more they were considered youthful, healthy, and attractive.
If you play music
In an experiment, a young man holding either a guitar case or sports bag asked 300 young women on the street for their numbers. When the man held the guitar case, more women were willing to give him their number.
If you wear the color red
In a Slovakian case study, women who wore the color red were more successful in mating-game scenarios. This can be attributed to sexual signaling, because women use the color red to attract potential mates.
Women are attracted to red on men, too, since as The Huffington Post argues, it signals status.
If you have a certain type of facial hair
In an Australian experiment, researchers found that women consider faces with heavy stubble more attractive than heavy beards, light stubble, and clean-shaven faces.
Beyond attractiveness, researchers also found that facial hair affects perceived fertility as well. The more facial hair a man had, the more masculine a woman perceived him to be — especially when she was in the fertile phase of her menstrual cycle.
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