Unsurprisingly, (mostly male) scientists have done gobs of research trying to figure out what women want in men.
But they have spent much less time uncovering the reverse: what makes women attractive to men. Let’s not even get started on the dearth of research on what men find attractive in other men, or women in other women.
In any case, a lot of what they have done focuses only on looks. These studies often conclude that various aspects of women’s bodies make them more appealing because men think that they’re more fertile — insert eye roll here.
We tracked down scientific findings that did not zero in on physical appearances alone. Some of the studies are small, or included only Western college students, so they cannot be overgeneralized. But the results are still intriguing — and often educational.
Here are seven traits that scientists have found that make women more attractive to men:
- 1. Men are more attracted to women who are ovulating, according to an entertaining study in which guys smelled ladies’ T-shirts. ( Source: Psychological Science )
- 2. While this probably won’t come as a surprise to you, ladies, men like women who laugh at their jokes. Anything to stroke their egos, right? ( Source: Evolution and Human Behavior )
- 3. Multiple studies have found that men prefer honest women, particularly for long-term relationships. ( Sources: Journal of Research in Personality, Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality )
- 4. Researchers have found that men gravitate toward women wearing red. Interestingly, women like men wearing red, too. ( Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology )
- 5. Studies have shown that men like it when women subtly mirror their actions. For example, if he touches his hair, wait a few moments and then casually touch your hair. ( Sources: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Cognition )
- 6. Time to assemble the girl squad. Researchers have found that women appear even more attractive in groups, calling this the “cheerleader effect.” ( Sources: Research in Organizational Behavior, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin )
- 7. Regardless of attractiveness or body size, in one study men at a British university preferred women who had positive personality traits like openness, kindness, and assertiveness. ( Source: The Journal of Social Psychology )