… even if it’s just to yourself.
Advice abounds for how to make yourself appear more attractive: You can ensure that you are well-groomed, smile at others, display a good sense of humor, apply makeup, or drive an expensive car (Buss,1998).
have you considered some more unusual ways to make yourself look or at least feel more attractive? (Before trying these techniques you should be aware that what makes you feel more attractive may actually make others see you as less appealing.)
1. Take a Selfie, But Don’t Post It
Do you take a lot of selfies? Do you prefer the way you look in your selfies to how you look in photos that others take of you? Interestingly, most people do feel this way, especially if they take selfies regularly (Re et al., 2016). However, this same research also reveals that selfies only make you more attractive to yourself. When evaluating other people, most of us consistently rate photographs taken of people by someone else as more attractive than those people’s selfies. So take a selfie if it makes you feel good about yourself, but consider sharing photographs taken by someone else if you want to appear more attractive to others.
2. Have a Drink, But Only One
Do you feel more attractive when consuming alcohol? Bar patrons rate themselves as increasingly attractive as they consume more drinks (Bégue et al., 2013). Further, a test in the laboratory showed that people did not actually have to consume alcohol to consider themselves more attractive; they just had to believe they had consumed alcohol in order to perceive themselves more positively (Bégue et al.).
Actually becoming tipsy may make us appear more attractive to others (Van Den Abbeele et al., 2015). However, although we become more attractive to ourselves as we consume more alcohol, we become less attractive to others if we consume too much. Researchers observed a curvilinear relationship between alcohol consumption and perceived attractiveness, such that those who had consumed a moderate amount (0.4 g/kg) were perceived as more attractive than both sober individuals and those who had consumed a higher volume of alcohol (Van Den Abbeele et al.). The authors speculate that individuals may be perceived as more attractive because of the facial blush associated with moderate alcohol consumption. A slight red color to the cheeks is associated with increased health and attractiveness (see Van Den Abbeele et al.) So have a drink: It will make you feel more attractive and appear more attractive to others. But don’t overdo it: Excessive alcohol consumption will make you less attractive to others.
3. Start Your Night with the Contrast Effect; End It with the Assimilation Effect
If you were going to a party and you wanted to appear as attractive as possible, should you bring along a friend who is more attractive or less attractive than yourself? Intuitively, we might think that we should bring a less attractive friend so that we would appear more attractive by comparison, a phenomenon referred to as the contrast effect (Kenrick and Gutierres, 1980). This contrast might make us feel more attractive than our friend due to the downward social comparison. However, if we want to appear more attractive to others over the long term, the better strategy would be to associate with your more attractive friends. Over time we will experience the assimilation effect (Geiselman et al., 1984), as becoming associated with a more attractive group over time makes us appear more attractive over time as well. I typically advise my students to take advantage of both the contrast effect and the assimilation effect. At the party, follow a less attractive individual to the entrance, to make yourself appear more attractive at the moment of arrival. Subsequently, you should hang out with your most gorgeous friends all night, making you a part of that attractive group.
By Madeleine A. Fugère, Ph.D.
She is a professor of Social Psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she teaches courses in Social Psychology, Statistics, Research Methods, and Attraction and Romantic Relationships.