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Attractiveness or attraction is a quality that causes an interest, desire in, or gravitation to something or someone.[1]: 59[2][Notes 1][Notes 2] Attraction may also refer to the object of the attraction itself, as in tourist attraction.

Visual attractiveness[edit]

Visual attractiveness or visual appeal is attraction produced primarily by visual stimuli. This type of "visual stimuli" and/or what makes a person attractive is typically seen, but not limited to, features portrayed on the face.

Physical attractiveness[edit]

Physical attractiveness is the perception of the physical traits of an individual human person as pleasing or beautiful. It can include various implications, such as sexual attractiveness, cuteness, similarity and physique.[3]

Judgment of attractiveness of physical traits is partly universal to all human cultures, partly dependent on culture or society or time period, partly biological, and partly subjective and individual.[4][1][2]

The science behind attraction[edit]

According to a study determining the golden ratio for facial beauty, the most attractive face is one with average distances between facial features, and an average length and width of the face itself.[5] Facial attractiveness, or beauty, can also be determined by symmetry. If a face is asymmetrical, this can indicate unhealthy genetic information. Therefore, if a face is symmetrical (see Facial symmetry), healthy genetic information is implied. People will judge potential mates based on the physical expression of the genetic health, which is their apparent attractiveness.[6] This supports the good genes theory, which indicates that attractiveness is seen as a way to ensure that offspring will have the healthiest genes and therefore the best chance of survival. Certain traits that indicate good genes (such as clear skin or facial symmetry) are seen as desirable when choosing a partner.[7]

Attractive qualities in animals[edit]

In animals, attraction is based mostly on what will give the females the best chance of having the most and healthiest offspring that will likely survive to adulthood because of the traits they will inherit from the male.[8]

Out of both genders, females often are choosiest about who they pick for a mate. They will look for certain characteristics, like special traits or behaviors in their potential mates that ensure their offspring will have healthy genetic material. Females will look for signs of health in the males, such as large and fancy adornments, bright colors, or other features that the male will only have if he is in good health.[9]

A theory that's been mentioned, is that females typically seek males who are "good providers and offer potential stability", a quality similar to that of human connections. Besides this, females are also attracted to how much a male weighs, his opposition to sickness and diseases, as well as his domination and authority over large sections of land.[10]

Additional attributes[edit]

Beyond the physicality of what makes one attractive, there are many other factors that play a role in someone's sense of attractiveness.

Certain pheromones secreted by animals, including humans, can attract others, and this is viewed as being attracted to smell. Human sex pheromones may play a role in human attraction, although it is unclear how well humans can actually sense the pheromones of another.

In 2014, Professor Yan Zhang from the Huazhong University in China, conducted a study that was issued in the Personality and Individual Differences (November 2014 issue). The study suggested that people who tend to portray positive personality traits, like kindness for instance, are typically seen as more attractive than people who portray negative personality traits.

Eye candy[edit]

Eye candy is a slang term for superficial attractiveness.[11] In a 2017 Boston Globe article about the potential for cheerleading at the Olympics, eye candy was used to describe cheerleaders as "entertainment popularized by professional sports in the United States."[12][13] The term has also been used in professional sports in the United States referring to female athletes.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Their often-cited 1988 publication provided a "general theory of how psychological situations elicit emotions and make them intense. Its chief application is in computer science as the emotion engine of intelligent agents in computer games, and interactive training modules." Anthony Ortony, professor at Northwestern University with a focus on Psychology, Education, and Computer Science; Gerald L. Clore is a Psychology Professor at the University of Virginia with a focus on emotion and its cognitive consequences; and Allan Collins is professor of Learning Sciences specializing in Education, Psychology, and Artificial Intelligence at Northwestern University.
  2. ^ In The Cognitive Structure of Emotions Ortony, Clore and Collins describe the intensity of joy emotions; praiseworthiness affects the intensity of pride emotions, and appealingness affects the intensity of the object-based attraction emotions. The "perception of charm and physical beauty" through their influence on "appealingness" only have an indirect effect on the intensity of attraction emotions.


  1. ^ a b Ortony, Andrew; Gerald L. Clore; Allan Collins (1989). The Cognitive Structure of Emotions. Cambridge University Press. p. 59. doi:10.2307/2074241. ISBN 978-0-521-38664-7. JSTOR 2074241.
  2. ^ a b Colby, B. N. (November 1989). "Review of 'The Cognitive Structure of Emotions' by Andrew Ortony, Gerald L. Clore and Allan Collins" (PDF). Contemporary Sociology. American Sociological Association. 18 (6): 957–958. doi:10.2307/2074241. JSTOR 2074241.
  3. ^ Aumeboonsuke, Vesarach (2018-02-26). "The Interrelations among Self-efficacy, Happiness, Individual Values, and Attractiveness Promoting Behavior". Asian Social Science. 14 (3): 37. doi:10.5539/ass.v14n3p37. ISSN 1911-2025.
  4. ^ Hönekopp, Johannes (2006). "Once more: Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Relative contributions of private and shared taste to judgments of facial attractiveness" (PDF). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 32 (2): 199–209. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.32.2.199. PMID 16634665. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-23. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
  5. ^ Pallett, Pamela; Link, Stephen; Lee, Kang (November 6, 2009). "New "Golden" Ratios for Facial Beauty". Vision Research. 50 (2): 149–154. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2009.11.003. PMC 2814183. PMID 19896961.
  6. ^ Jones, B.C.; Little, A.C.; Penton-Voak, I.S.; Tiddeman, B.P.; Burt, D.M.; Perrett, D.I. (November 2001). "Facial symmetry and judgements of apparent health: Support for a "good genes" explanation of the attractiveness–symmetry relationship". Evolution and Human Behavior. 22 (6): 417–420. doi:10.1016/S1090-5138(01)00083-6.
  7. ^ "Good genes hypothesis". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Citation error. See inline comment how to fix.[verification needed]
  9. ^ Bateson, P. Editor. (1983). Sexual Selection by Female Choice by Peter O'Donald. in Mate Choice. (pp. 53). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  10. ^ "Animal Attraction: The Many Forms of Monogamy in the Animal Kingdom | NSF – National Science Foundation". Retrieved 2019-04-26.
  11. ^ "The English We Speak". BBC. November 3, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  12. ^ Springer, Shira (February 18, 2017). "Is cheerleading coming to the Olympics?". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  13. ^ Ryan, Shannon (January 7, 2016). "Time for NFL to end use of cheerleaders". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  14. ^ "It's Time For Sports Broadcasting To Stop Relegating Women to Sideline Eye Candy". Forbes. January 21, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2017.