Given personal preference's instrumental role in determining attractiveness, it's hard to whittle it down to an exact science; cultural differences, personality type, temperament, and more all subtly influence who we're attracted to. But as Business Insider points out, we can look to certain studies that attempt to generalize what makes people magnetically attractive. While it's worth bearing in mind that most psychological research of this kind features heterosexual participants, many of the below findings are universally human.
Below, read up on what science has found to be true when it comes to attractiveness:
Surround Yourself With Friends
This 2014 study from the University of California explains why we're so attracted to people in bands. Put simply, people almost always look more attractive when they're surrounded by people. "Having a few wingmen or wingwomen may indeed be a good dating strategy, particularly if their facial features complement and average out one's unattractive idiosyncrasies," wrote study authors Drew Walker and Edward Vul. In other words, go out with your friends on the weekends.
Skip the Small Talk
If you really want sparks to fly, a 1997 study wants you to skip the small talk. Study author and psychologist Arthur Aron split the group of participants into two and gave each couple 45 minutes to answer a set of questions. The group with the probing, intimate questions felt more connected than the group with straight small talk; one couple even fell in love. This is no surprise when you consider that talking deeply about yourself stimulates the same brain regions as sex or a good meal.
When it comes down to it, there's no "right" way to be attractive. This is substantiated by a 2015 study that found that your environment is the single most important factor in determining what people find alluring; attraction is that malleable. Your best bet is to simply be yourself and project a sense of security in that self. "There will be those who adore your tattoos and body piercings, and others who get turned off by them," concludes BI. "Maybe you scowl a lot—that's okay. Someone out there will find that, and you, pretty hot."
What character traits would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!