Social Psychology

What factor makes us attractive?

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People are usually attracted to each other for countless reasons. However, we are ultimately more attracted to people who seem to understand us emotionally! 

This fact is now proven by a study done in the newspaper PNAS.

Who are we attracted to?

We are attracted to those whose emotions we can easily understand – something that may be due to a “match” of neural circuitry!

“The ability to perceive the intentions and feelings of others is important for successful social interaction!“, says Silke Anders, a professor of Social Neurology at the University of Lübeck.

“For partners to achieve a common goal, they must constantly understand their partner’s intentions and motivation, anticipate the other’s behavior, and adjust their own behavior accordingly!»

Anders and her team wanted to find out if there really is a neural mechanism that emphasizes one’s ability to read the emotions of others and thus become more attractive to them.

They had approximately 90 people watch a video of women experiencing feelings of fear or sadness. After watching the video, the survey participants were asked to rate how these women felt and how confident they were that they had “read” them correctly. The researchers also measured the duration and brain activity.

So, they discovered that the more certain a person was that they had accurately read a woman’s emotions, the more attractive they became to her!

High levels of confidence and attraction were also associated with greater activity in the reward-processing area of the brain.

Therefore, the ability to successfully read someone activates the brain’s reward system and drives attraction!

“Most incredibly and interestingly of all, understanding and personal attraction seem to depend not only on the brains of the receiver and the sender but also on how well they match each other!”, underlines the Anders. 

“If the emotional signals sent by the sender – for example, an expression of sadness or fear – can be correctly processed by the receiver’s brain, then the reward system will be immediately activated, making the sender more attractive to the receiver!”

“Previous research has shown that the brain of someone who has difficulty reading the emotions of others differs from the brain of someone who is very good at it. If communication between two people doesn’t work smoothly as expected, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not interested in communicating. It could simply mean that the overlap of the “vocabulary” of their neurons is not yet large enough.”

Simply put, their neurons don’t speak the same language…

According to Anders, it remains unknown whether reading others can change and improve as we practice it and stated that she would like to do more extensive studies!

In my opinion, you grasp all this empirically, and the more you cultivate it, the more you develop it! As I wrote in a previous article, let my mind want you too! And when we find people with whom we have that special connection, let’s do everything to keep them!

Because reading me and me reading you with your eyes closed is simply magical!



Anders, S., De Jong, R., Beck, C., Haynes, J. D., & Ethofer, T. (2016). A neural link between affective understanding and interpersonal attraction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(16), E2248-E2257.

Source:   (Alexandra Sifferlin)


*Photo by Dainis Graveris





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