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Study: Attraction based on more than looks, includes voice, smell

Good looks alone aren’t all it takes to be attractive. According to a new article in Frontiers in Psychology, voice and smell are also important factors in the force of attraction.

It may not seem surprising that attractiveness involves more than just physical appearance, but most research has focused on looks, neglecting vocal and olfactory factors, the new study found.

A team of researchers reviewed 30 years of literature, but only found a few studies that have looked into the role of voice and scent. Although the research field is small, it provides insight into a large quantity and variety of information.

“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.”

Viewing attractiveness through all three channels “gives a more reliable and broader variety of information about them,” Groyecka said

Some of the study 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.

People can correctly deduce similar types of information based on scent alone, according to other studies. Recent brain imaging research has also suggested that combinations–sight and smell, for example–appear to be synergistic, producing even stronger reactions than would be expected.

Perceived attractiveness influences not only romantic relationships, but also friendships and professional interactions, Groyecka added.

The review also highlights a variety of proposed evolutionary explanations for the multisensory aspects of attraction, such as the utility of having traits such as voice and looks  that can be detected both from a distance, as well as up close, such as scent.

“I hope that this review will inspire researchers to further explore the role of audition and olfaction in social relations,” Groyecka said.

By: David Beasley Staff Writer

Source: Frontiers in Psychology

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