Talk Nerdy To Me: The Science Of Sex Appeal

Feel hot and get all the attention with these tips backed by biology and evolutionary psychology.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Feel hot and get all the attention with these tips backed by biology and evolutionary psychology. 

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While much remains unknown about what attracts people to each other, science has uncovered many secrets. For example, numerous studies have shown that people find symmetrical faces attractive, and that many women are attracted to features like strong jawlines and broad shoulders as they’re signals of verility. Here are some science- backed techniques you can try when you’re on the prowl. 

Seeing red 

Time to fish out that red dress from your closet – a 2010 study by researchers from the University of Rochester in New York showed that women wearing red clothing were viewed as more attractive and sexually desirable by men. 

You can also slick on a red lippie – a study by Manchester University found that in the 10 seconds after meeting a woman for the first time, the average guy will spend half his time gazing at her lips – and even longer if she’s wearing red lipstick. The hypothesis is that red lips resemble the swelling of blood vessels that occur during sexual arousal. 

Here’s looking at you 

According to a study published by the University of Aberdeen in 2008, attraction isn’t just based on looks, but also “social cues” – i.e., someone’s effort to show that they like the person. This can be communicated in various ways (including simply telling them!), but the study highlighted a simple enough technique – looking straight at the person you’re into and flashing a smile. “What we found was that the preference for [a] face was much stronger when people were looking at them and smiling,” said psychologist Dr Ben Jones, one of the authors of the study. 

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Mirror, mirror 

Studies show that mimicking a person’s body language, also known as mirroring, can make them like you more. It’s simple: if they cross their legs, then cross yours; if they lean in, then so do you (be subtle about it, of course). Matching body language causes mirror neurons in the brain to go off, making the other person feel understood and fostering a sense of trust. 

Mirroring also extends to language and communication – a study by The University of Texas in 2010 found that couples that sustain long-term relationships tend to have similar word choices and sentence structures, and that couples who used similar texting lingo were more likely to still be together three months later compared to those that don’t. 

Pitch, please 

While we often closely associate “husky” with “sexy”,  an experiment conducted by Dr Gordon Gallup of the State University of New York tells us otherwise. The study used audio clips to get men to rate the attractiveness of female voices – some clips sampled the same woman’s voice, but at a different stage of her menstrual cycle, which affected the pitch of her voice (during the ovulation stage, estrogen levels rise, raising the pitch in turn). It was found that the men unanimously rated the higher-pitched voices as more attractive, likely because they unconsciously associated them with fertility.