A person’s face is a big part of what draws us to them. But attractiveness isn’t only about physical good looks. A person’s appeal has a lot to do with the emotions they show through their facial expressions, research has shown.
Not surprisingly, happiness is pretty attractive. But can being happy – and showing you are – actually change the way others see you? That’s what a group of Swiss researchers got to wondering.
To find out more about the way happiness affects attractiveness, they tracked down just under 70 undergraduate students. The students looked at two pictures of the same face on a computer screen and were asked to pick the one they thought was more attractive. The two faces had been morphed to vary in terms of physical good looks and how much they were smiling.
Boost your attractiveness
Sure enough, smiling can boost your attractiveness, the research showed. When they were asked to pick the most attractive face, participants went for the smiling one – even if the person wasn’t as good-looking. A happy expression can even make up for relative unattractiveness, say the researchers.
The more intense a person’s smile, the more likely they are to be seen as attractive, the study found. This was true for both men and women, though the men benefited even more from smiling, the researchers say – as yet, the reason remains a mystery.
Why is happy hot?
Why do we find happiness so attractive? The researchers have a few theories. The first has to do with the effects happy faces have on the brain. Studies have shown that when we look at someone who’s smiling, it triggers the brain’s reward circuitry more than if that person doesn’t seem to be in the best of moods.
Another theory is that a person’s emotions might affect our own emotions. So if we see someone who’s happy, that might make us happy in turn, leading us to feel attracted to them.
Finally, happiness could signal to us that a person is in good health and has good genes – whether or not we’re aware of it – making them attractive as a potential partner we might like to have children with.
Look your best!
So whether you want to make the best of your looks in your profile pic, or you’re flirting across a crowded room, here’s the scientific advice: don’t go for mean, moody and mysterious – give us a grin!
Reference: Something to smile about: The interrelationship between attractiveness and emotional expression, Jessika Golle, Fred W. Mast & Janek S. Lobmaier