You’ll probably get a different answer from just about everyone when you ask what they find most attractive in another person, from their eyes or their smile to their butt, or personality traits like a sense of humor and intelligence.
Attraction, as with most anything, is a very mysterious thing, involving s a mix of physical, mental and emotional components that is incredibly difficult to articulate.
But psychologists say, they’ve actually discovered the singlemost important thing you need to be attractive. Is it a puppy? Well, that certain helps as you can obviously see, but that’s not it.
It’s a little more complicated actually: We are attracted to people whose emotions we can easily understand, which the experts say may be due in part to matching neural circuitry.
“Being able to comprehend another person’s intentions and emotions is essential for successful social interaction,” said study author Silke Anders, a professor of Social and Affective Neuroscience at the University of Lübeck.
“To accomplish a common goal, partners must understand and continuously update information about their partner’s current intentions and motivation, anticipate the other’s behavior, and adapt their own behavior accordingly.”
Anders and her colleagues wanted to determine whether there is a neural mechanism that underlines a person’s ability to read another’s emotions and become attracted to them. They had about 90 people watch footage of women who facially expressed fear or sadness. After watching the video clips, those who participated in the study were asked to judge how the women felt and asked how confident they were that they were reading her right. The researchers also measured the people’s brain activity through imaging.
They discovered that the more certain a person was about how a woman was feeling, the more attracted they were to her. Higher levels of certainty and attraction were also linked to more activity in the area of the brain that processes rewards. This, the researchers said, suggested that the ability to read someone successfully activates the brain’s reward system and spurs attraction.
“What I believe makes our findings really exciting is the fact that understanding and personal attraction seem to depend on both the sender’s brain and the perceiver’s brain, and on how well they match,” Anders noted. “If the emotional signals sent by a sender—for example a facial expression of fear or sadness—can efficiently be processed by the perceiver’s brain, then their reward system will fire and they will feel attracted to the sender.”