Unconscious Cues That Define Sexual Attractiveness

Invisible forces that determine who we want and who wants us.

Originally Published In Psychology Today

The French say, “je ne sais quoi” (literally, “I don’t know what”) when describing a certain mysterious something that makes a particular person sexually attractive.

You’d think that with something as vital to the survival of the species as sexual selection, we’d all be very conscious of the cues we (and prospective partners) use for mate selection.

But as the French saying suggests, we are often not consciously aware of these cues. Numerous studies — in which young adults rate the attractiveness of photos of members of the opposite sex, or smell clothes worn by test subjects of the opposite sex — have proven that although we know whom we prefer as prospective mates, we don’t always know the exact reasons why we prefer them.

After reviewing a list of subliminal “come hither” stimuli that might shed some light on the mystery of physical attraction, I’ll explain how you could take advantage of the new information.

Unconscious Sexual Cues

Based on recent research, here is a list of unconscious attractors, indicating which attributes unconsciously arouse our interest, along with which sensory modalities are thought to be responsible for communicating signals of sexual attractiveness.

1. Body and face symmetry (from smell alone).

© Dr. Eric Haseltine

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