Nav: Home

There's more to attraction than what meets the eye

May 18, 2017

Attractiveness isn't just a matter of good looks, but also the right voice and scent, highlights a mini review in Frontiers in Psychology.

"Recently, most reviews have focused on visual attractiveness--for example, face or body attractiveness," says Agata Groyecka, lead author of the review and a researcher at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. "However, literature about other senses and their role in social relations has grown rapidly and should not be neglected."

Whether by an off-putting body odor or a grating voice, it's easy to understand how the nose and ears are just as important as the eyes in noticing how attractive someone is. It's not particularly surprising that attractiveness spans more than just physical appearance, but most research has focused on looks, neglecting vocal and olfactory factors.

"Perceiving others through all three channels gives a more reliable and broader variety of information about them," says Groyecka.

Groyecka and her collaborators recently combed through over 30 years of literature to provide a brief overview of the few studies that have looked into the role of voice and scent. While not extensive, this research field has already given insight into the quantity and variety of information that can be gathered by these other senses--which it turns out can be quite a lot.

Some findings are relatively intuitive, such as people guessing gender and age based on voice alone. But listeners have also proven to be skilled at detecting an unexpected range of characteristics from a voice, including the dominance, cooperativeness, emotional state, and even the body size of the speaker.

Even more surprisingly, other studies have shown that people can correctly deduce very similar types of information based on scent alone. Recent brain imaging studies also suggest that combinations--sight and smell, for example--appear to be synergistic, producing even stronger reactions than would be expected from summing the individual responses.

Perceived attractiveness impacts day-to-day life in a variety of ways, influencing not only romantic relationships, but also friendships and professional interactions. Without incorporating such information, psychological studies of everyday decision making and social communication can't capture the whole picture. Groyecka's review also highlights a variety of proposed evolutionary explanations for these multisensory aspects of attraction, such as the utility of having traits that can be detected both from a distance (voice and looks), as well as up close (scent).

"I hope that this review will inspire researchers to further explore the role of audition and olfaction in social relations," says Groyecka.
-end-


Frontiers

Related Attraction Articles:

There's more to attraction than what meets the eye
Attractiveness isn't just a matter of good looks, but also the right voice and scent, highlights a mini review in Frontiers in Psychology.
Larger schooling fish found to have stronger attraction forces
In schooling fish, collective movement emerges as a result of multiple social interactions between individuals.
Headless dinosaur reunited with its skull, one century later
Researchers at the University of Alberta have matched the headless skeleton to a Corythosaurus skull from the university's Paleontology Museum that had been collected in 1920 by George Sternberg to the headless dinosaur.
Speed-dependent attraction governs what goes on at the heart of midge swarms
Ever wondered what makes the collective behavior in insect swarms possible?
Powers of attraction could decimate deadly starfish
An American who fell in love with both the Great Barrier Reef and his wife via The University of Queensland has led a breakthrough discovery that could protect one of the Seven Natural Wonders.
Progesterone and bisexuality: Is there a link?
Bisexuality is quite common among men and women whose mothers received additional doses of the sex hormone progesterone while pregnant.
Gehry's Biodiversity Museum -- favorite attraction for the butterflies and moths in Panama
Ahead of Gehry's Biodiversity Museum's opening in October 2014, Ph.D.
The attraction effect: How our brains can be influenced
The decisions we make are influenced by other possibilities that we did not choose.
Scientists illuminate the neurons of social attraction
The ancient impulse to procreate is necessary for survival and must be hardwired into our brains.
The power of attraction
Hybrid organic-inorganic materials can self-assemble into tiny doughnut-like structures.

Related Attraction Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".