What Is the True Secret of Attraction? Science Has the Answer

· December 9, 2016
It could be said that the secret of attraction lies in our cerebral circuitry. It determines whether emotional signals are effective or not.

The characteristics that make a person attractive have been debated for centuries.

While it’s proven to vary depending on context, cultural values and lifestyle, some continue to believe that physical attractiveness offers the greatest advantage.

While physical features do play a role in attraction, it’s been shown they’re not the only factors that determine how attractive someone appear to others.

In fact, some people affirm that attractiveness of another person is directly linked to their personality and the qualities the admirer sees in them.

On top of this, scientific research shows that a very important component of attraction lies in the brain and its ability to understand the emotions and intentions of others.

Researchers from the University of Lübeck (Germany) recently conducted a study that was published in the journal PNAS. This study found that the more capable we are of deciphering others’ emotions, the more attractive we are to others.

The true secret of attraction lies in the brain


By analyzing the neuronal mechanisms that are stimulated by attraction, the researchers determined that a person’s ability to read others’ emotions played a very important role in the attraction.

Silke Anders, professor of social and effective neuroscience at the University of Lübeck and author of the study said:

Being able to understand the intentions and emotions of another person is essential in successful social interaction.
For mutual success, people need to understand and continually analyze their partners’ intentions and emotions, anticipate others’ behavior and adapt their own accordingly.

To reach this conclusion, the experiment examined 90 people who were required to watch videos of women expressing either fear or sadness.

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After watching the videos, participants had to make an assessment of how the women were feeling and their level of confidence in their assessments.

While the individuals were performing the requested activity, researchers analyzed their brain activity to measure their level of attraction.

Scientists found that the more accurate the assessment of the woman’s emotional state, the more attractive the participant seemed.

This could mean that the easier it is for you to read others’ emotions correctly, the more attractive you are.

This is because it activates the brain’s reward center, causing pleasurable sensations.

What’s truly interesting about these findings is the role that both the sender and receiver play.

The ability to understand others and identify exactly what they’re feeling depends on the level of neuron activity that occurs with the attraction.

When, for example, a person shows facial expressions of fear or sadness, the observer efficiently processes it in their brain, triggering the reward system and increasing attractiveness to the emoter.


In prior studies, a difference was found in the neural circuitry of those who lack the ability to “read” the emotions of others. These people also tend to encounter difficulties with communication and attraction.

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For this reason, some scientists suggest that a lack of communication doesn’t necessarily imply a lack of interest. Simply, their neuronal circuitry isn’t sufficient to fully express themselves.

Anders acknowledges that the study is too small to make any categorical claims.

However, he affirms his desire to further analyze how the ability to read emotions changes as we age, and if it’s possible to increase that ability with practice.

It would also be interesting to discover if the ability to read others arises from our own inborn qualities or if there are other factors involved making it possible.

In any case, these conclusions offer a new explanation for what makes people attractive and why some are more so than others.