Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

The 4 Key Elements of Sex Appeal

There's also something in the way he (or she) moves.

Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock
Source: Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock

OK, we’re not all born beautiful. But there are actually more ingredients in the mix of what makes a person sexually, or interpersonally, appealing, and being physically attractive is only one of the key four:

1. Dynamic Attractiveness.

As George Harrison suggested, there’s “something in the way she [or he] moves…” We all know people who are not classically handsome or beautiful, but the way they express themselves—their dynamic appearance—makes them sexy and attractive. This is what we call dynamic attractiveness, and it’s all about body language. It involves the expression of our emotions and our underlying personality and is a critical element of an individual’s personal charisma. Expressing positive affect—a smiling face, an upbeat tempo, and expressive eyes and facial expressions are all associated with dynamic attractiveness.

2. Circumstances.

A great deal of research in social psychology tells us that the situation matters. First of all, we like and are attracted to people who like us. We tend to reciprocate affection. Enjoying rewarding and pleasing experiences together make a partner appear more attractive to us. Research has even shown that if we experience something exciting and arousing, we may attribute some of that arousal to the person we are with, and become more attracted to her or him.

3. Static Attractiveness.

This is what you are born with—the shape of your face, your physical features, your general body shape. Of course, physical appearance can be altered through aging, injury, or plastic surgery, but it is generally the component of physical attractiveness that you can’t do much about.

4. Self-Presentation.

This includes all of the things that one can do to their general appearance that will make them more physically attractive—grooming, makeup, hairstyle, style of dress, etc. It is the component of attractiveness altered when one undergoes a makeover.

Follow me on Twitter