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Why are we attracted to certain people?

The science that studies human and animal behavior, also called ethology, gives us the answer. Attraction is a complex subject, as well as an interesting one, that has fascinated many psychologists for many years. Several and diverse factors are implicit in the fact that we are attracted to some people and not others, such as emotional, biological, cultural aspects, etc. Today we find out what ethology says about it.

Biological factors related to physical appearance

To begin, I will mention some biological factors, related to physical appearance, that can influence whether or not we find a person attractive. Some of them are the following:
  • Body and facial symmetry . It indicates health, resistance to parasites and absence of diseases during development.
  • Face average . Facial features that resemble the population average are often considered attractive, since when they are extreme or very different, they could indicate bad genes.
  • Good complexion and cleanliness . It provides information about the health and biological efficacy of the person.
  • Women with a narrow waist and large breasts . It indicates higher fertility rates, health and absence of pregnancy. They are considered attractive traits in women.
  • Men with masculine features and deep voices . Prominent chin, marked cheekbones, symmetrical face, broad shoulders and narrow hips. These are traits that tend to be more attractive in men and that indicate high levels of testosterone and good health.
It should be noted that the aspects mentioned above are aspects that ethology, after studying them, considers important when verifying that they are related to natural and biological selection . However, staying with this may be too simplistic, since beauty and attractiveness depend on many other factors , such as the subjectivity of each person, cultural and social aspects, etc. Still, it's an interesting insight to consider on an evolutionary level. Another interesting fact that has been seen in couples, both in the short and long term, is that they tend to have approximately the same level of physical attractiveness , while compatibility in values, ideology or personality, among others, correlates more with long-term couples. term.

Theories that do not take into account physical aspects

There are other theories that explain why we are attracted to who we are attracted to, this time, without taking physical aspects into account.

proximity theory

The fact that the other person is physically close to us can facilitate attraction , since there are more opportunities for an approach or contact. On the other hand, the "effect of mere exposure" defined by the psychologist Zajón also has an influence, who affirms that, simply by getting used to and exposing ourselves to a stimulus, it can go from being neutral to positive. The same would then happen with people. Repeated contact or familiarity with the other person could end up facilitating attraction. Today, constant contact through social networks, which can be maintained despite physical distance, can also facilitate this rapprochement or attraction.

similarity theory

We feel attracted to people who we perceive to be similar to ourselves in different aspects such as personality, lifestyle, hobbies, tastes . We feel like we fit in, and by looking for people who share these same values, we feel drawn to them.

Complementarity theory

We are attracted to people who are contrary to us in certain ways. This theory would respond to the well-known phrase "opposites attract". The objective of this attraction is to form a kind of balance . For this reason, couples where one person is very extroverted and the other, on the other hand, quite introverted, are very common.

reciprocity theory

When we see that it is mutual, we are attracted to people who are also attracted to us . Like when we are told that someone likes us, almost automatically we feel a kind of special connection or reciprocity towards that person.

self-disclosure theory

The fact of revealing intimate aspects increases the connection, intimacy and attraction towards the other person. Create an ideal climate for connection.

arousal theory

That the people involved go through the same situation of danger, excitement or adrenaline , can facilitate a climate of special connection for the attraction to arise.

Other socially valued characteristics

In addition, there are other characteristics that science has proven to be considered attractive and socially valued in people. Some examples are:
  • Being sincere, honest, understanding, loyal and trustworthy, according to a study Anderson conducted in 1968.
  • Being affectionate, friendly and happy , smiling, looking attentively and expressing emotions, showing liking for people and having social skills and intelligence , showing it through interesting conversations . According to the study by Lydon et al., carried out in 1988.

Behaviors we use to attract

And about the behaviors that human beings use to attract someone or flirt ? What does ethology say about this? Are some more effective than others? Which ones do we usually use? Well, what ethology says is that, during courtship or flirting, the most effective and efficient verbal and non-verbal behaviors and language at a biological level is the following:
  • Make eye contact , hold your gaze, wink, or blink rapidly
  • smile and laugh
  • Having physical contact with the other during the conversation: touching hands and arms
  • Offer details or gifts
  • self contact
In short, these would be some of the issues that social psychology and ethology have studied and considered important about human attraction. They are certainly very interesting, but as mentioned, these are just a few examples. There are many others linked to subjective and personal decisions , cultural and social aspects, fashions, etc.
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