Wouldn’t we all like to be just a little bit hotter?
With the global market for weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy expected to reach $100 billion by 2035, and the demand for Botox predicted to hit $10.62 billion by 2030, there is no shortage of procedures to help us on our road to increased hotness.
But now a scientist has revealed the actual science behind attractiveness – and it doesn’t involve surgery.
Lillian Park, associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York – Old Westbury, says that, rather than change the way we look, we can actually manipulate the way people see us.
In the book How to Win Friends and Influence Fungi: Collected Quirks of Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math from Nerd Nite, she details five scientifically proven ways to appear more attractive to other people.
Researchers have found that both men and women rate the opposite sex as more attractive when they wear red
Park says the colors we wear could have a significant impact on how hot we appear to others.
‘Researchers have found that wearing the color red increases how physically attractive people find you.’
That’s because, while red is often thought to be a sign of danger and aggression, it also symbolizes passion, love, and desire.
A landmark study published in 2008 presented a group of men with a photograph of a woman wearing a red shirt, while a separate group saw the same woman wearing a blue shirt. Asked to rate her attractiveness, the lady in red was found to be much more sexually desirable.
In a separate study, published in 2010, women were shown photographs of a man dressed first in a red shirt then in green. The women rated the man wearing red as significantly more attractive and sexually desirable.
But you don’t even have to go all-out Red Riding Hood, says Park. A splash of color – by way of a necktie or lipstick – will do the trick.
Have good-looking friends
Contrary to popular opinion, it turns out that having attractive friends helps to elevate perceptions of our own physical attractiveness.
‘Yes, being surrounded by good-looking friends makes you appear better-looking than if you were alone or surrounded by plain-looking friends,’ says Park.
‘Researchers at Michigan State University found that having attractive friends on social media led people to thinking the profile owner was more attractive. So let your gorgeous friends do the heavy lifting. Surround yourself with them and voilà, your own attractiveness will be elevated.
Let people approach you
‘When it comes to hotness,’ says Park, ‘it turns out you want to be the hunted.’
A study from Northwestern University was carried out at a speed-dating event. For half the event, men moved from table to table, while women stayed in place. For the other half, the women moved, while the men stayed put.
Let the object of your desire approach you – people of both sexes are deemed more attractive when they are passive
The results surprised the researchers, who discovered that attractiveness was rated higher when the opposite party was more passive – regardless of their gender.
‘The people who moved experienced greater attraction and chemistry toward their speed-dating partner,’ she said.
So next time you’re attracted to someone across a crowded bar, let them do the work.
Wait until closing time
‘It’s true, people do become more attractive at closing time,’ says Park.
But the old myth of beer goggles is only part of the story.
Australian researchers carried out a study in a bar in Sydney. Patrons were asked to rate their fellow bar-goers for attractiveness at the beginning of the evening, the middle of the evening, and at closing time.
Their blood alcohol levels were also tested.
Lillian Park (left) says that, rather than change the way we look, we can actually manipulate the way people see us
And while they did get progressively drunker, researchers said this alone could not account for the changes in perceptions of attractiveness. Rather, they said that repeated exposure to the same people, combined with the progressively smaller pool of potential romantic options, led patrons to see people as a whole lot hotter the more the night wore on.
‘Thus, go to a bar, let yourself be seen, and wait until closing time when there’s not as much competition,’ says Park. ‘Easy!’
Personality does matter
‘Human beings aren’t as shallow as we think. In fact, your physical attractiveness can be manipulated by your personality,’ says Park.
She cites a study in which people were asked to rate the physical attractiveness of photographs of people. Half the photos had desirable personality traits attached, such as honesty, intelligence, humor, and kindness. The other half were associated with negative traits including offensiveness, cruelty, rudeness, and abusive.
‘Thankfully, people found the photos with the desirable personality traits as being more attractive,’ she says.
‘Remember the previous study where being surrounded by good-looking people increased your attractiveness? In that same study, researchers found that the comments and behaviors from the good-looking friends mattered.
‘Positive comments and kind behaviors from the good-looking friends increased attractiveness in social media profile owners. We want to be with people who are kind, generous, dependable, and supportive. There is nothing sexier than someone who makes us feel good.’
She adds: ‘Being the kind of person that other people want to be around because of your sterling personality immediately boosts your hotness.’
How to Win Friends and Influence Fungi: Collected Quirks of Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math from Nerd Nite by Chris Balakrishnan and Matt Wasowski, with illustrations by Kristen Orr, is published February 20, St Martin’s Press