What makes people attractive? And sometimes really, really attractive?
Hotness is devilishly hard to generalize. A person's mood, cultural upbringing, and ability to get along with someone, for example, add up to radically different ideas about who's sexy and who's not.
That said, researchers have found some commonalities that seem to make people more attractive than others, and they can be helpful in thinking about how we present ourselves to the world.
We've rounded up some of the more compelling science here. Before you dig in, though, keep in mind that a lot of psychological research is heterosexually biased, and we live in a world where people seek mates based first on their farmer status — so don't fret if you don't see yourself described in this list.
It makes sense — laughing feels good! — but the advantage seems weirdly uneven. Women who make men laugh, for example,don't gain anywhere near the same kind of advantage. In other words, men aren't paying enough attention to whether their female mates can give them a giggle. What gives, men?
There's some speculation as to what the cause of this disparity might be.
"The effect of a great sense of humor on women's attractions might be partially explained by the fact that funny people are considered to be more social and more intelligent, things that women seek in a mate," anthropologist Gil Greengross writes at Psychology Today.
But, as far as we're concerned, if you're a funny person — no matter your anatomical sex — keeping is unlikely to hurt your chances.
Surround yourself with friends
Have you ever noticed that sometimes bandsare sexy, but their individual members aren't?
Well, you can stop wondering why. A 2014 study from the University of California at San Diego found that people almost always look more attractive when they're in a group.
Writer James Hamblin does a pretty good job of exploring this funny effect for The Atlantic. It most likely happens because our brains process the faces of a group of people in aggregate, making each face look more "average" — and thus more attractive — as a result.
"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," authors Drew Walker and Edward Vul write in their original study.
I wouldn't spend too much time worrying if your bar mates' faces average out your unattractive idiosyncrasies. The go out with friends bit is probably good advice.