The Science of Sexual Attraction: What Factors Influence Who We’re Drawn To?

The Science of Sexual Attraction: What Factors Influence Who We're Drawn To?

Sexual attraction is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, influenced by a range of biological, psychological, and social factors. From physical appearance and personality to cultural and societal norms, there are many factors that can influence who we are drawn to romantically and sexually.

Physical Appearance

Physical attractiveness is often the first thing that people notice about each other, and it can be a major factor in sexual attraction. Research has shown that symmetry, averageness, and health are important indicators of physical attractiveness. Symmetry refers to the balance and proportionality of facial features and bodily proportions. Research has found that people with symmetrical faces are generally perceived as more attractive, possibly because symmetry is an indicator of good health and genetic fitness.

Averageness refers to the idea that faces that are average or typical of a population are perceived as more attractive. This may be because average faces are more familiar and therefore seem more trustworthy. Health is also an important factor in physical attractiveness. People who are perceived as healthy and free of blemishes or abnormalities are often seen as more attractive.


While physical appearance is certainly important, it is not the only factor that influences sexual attraction. Personality also plays a role. Research has shown that people are generally attracted to those who are kind, trustworthy, and honest. Sense of humor is also an attractive trait, as is intelligence and ambition.

Cultural and Societal Norms

Cultural and societal norms can also influence sexual attraction. Different cultures have different standards of beauty and different expectations for behavior and roles within relationships. In some cultures, for example, it is expected that men be taller than women, while in others, this is not the case. Similarly, some cultures value traits such as loyalty and obedience in a partner, while others prioritize independence and ambition.

Evolutionary Factors

Evolutionary psychology suggests that sexual attraction is influenced by a number of evolutionary factors. One theory is that we are attracted to certain traits because they are indicators of good genetic quality and the ability to produce healthy offspring. For example, men may be attracted to women with a low waist-to-hip ratio and other physical characteristics that are indicative of fertility. Women may be attracted to men who are strong and physically fit, as these traits may indicate good health and the ability to protect and provide for a family.


Hormones also play a role in sexual attraction. Testosterone, the male sex hormone, is associated with sex drive and aggression, while estrogen, the female sex hormone, is associated with mood and sexual behavior. Other hormones, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, are involved in bonding and attachment.

Experience and Personal Preferences

Finally, sexual attraction is also influenced by personal experience and individual preferences. People may be attracted to certain physical features or personality traits because they have had positive experiences with people who possess those traits in the past. Similarly, individual preferences and cultural influences can shape what we find attractive.


Sexual attraction is a complex phenomenon influenced by a range of biological, psychological, and social factors. From physical appearance and personality to cultural and societal norms and evolutionary factors, there are many things that can influence who we are attracted to. Understanding these factors can help us better understand our own attractions and those of others.

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