We’re all attracted to people all the time.
What is it that attracts us to others? And
what do others find attractive about you?
These are some of the questions our team is
going to try and answer in this series of
videos. With millions of people to choose
from, finding that perfect someone shouldn’t
be that difficult. But the media, social pressures
and human nature itself have turned it into
a mystery. We’re surrounded by manipulated
images, celebrity and glossy perfection. We’re
given rules about dating through books, websites
and the press. They all pressure us to conform
to an ideal of what is attractive. But what’s
the truth? It’s time for science to tackle
the subject. Through a series of experiments,
our team are going to piece together some
of the clues to this enormously complex phenomenon
and in these videos they will explore the
science of attraction.
The Media has always influenced what we consider
to be attractive and affects how many people
perceive themselves. Why are we so critical
of our own image? Is it just social pressure,
an exposure effect due to the images we see,
or is there something else at work - and can
it be manipulated?
[music] In this video the team take a group
of young couples and put to the test, whether
what we see is really what we get?
>>I don't want that to be how I look
>>But you definitely look better in that one
And a member of the team goes through an extreme
transformation as we expose the tricks of
manipulating images. But first, here's Kat.
We see ourselves in the mirror every day,
when we clean our teeth and wash our faces.
However this mirrored or reversed image, isn't
how our friends and family see us but it is
the one we become accustomed to.
There is a concept which states that a persons
repeated exposure to something will enhance
its perceived value and it's known as the
mere exposure hypothesis.
In other words, the more we see or experience
something, the more normal it becomes, and
the more we like it.
So today, we're taking 5 couples and running
a little experiment to see how the mere exposure
hypothesis effects our perception of ourselves
and other people.
Hosting the experiment is Charlie, he's going
to explain to our couples what they are here
>>Hello everyone, I'm Charlie. Thank you for
coming along today. Paul our photographer
is just going to be taking some quick pictures
of you and then out of those pictures we're
going to ask you to pick your favourites just
have a bit of fun really, nothing to stressful,
just enjoy yourselves.
[music] We'll be showing each person two photos
of themselves and two of their partner.
>>Hi, pleased to meet you.
>>I'm your photographer. Look straight into
the camera lens, fantastic and smile.
>>Then we'll be asking them to choose their
favourite from each pair. What they don't
know is that both photographs are identical,
apart from one has been flipped to create
a mirrored image. If the mirrored exposure
hypothesis is correct each person should choose
the mirrored photo of themselves as that is
the image that they are most used to seeing.
Okay, so now that the photos are ready it's
time for the moment of truth. Lets find out
which ones they prefer.
By the way image A is the mirrored photo and
image B is the normal one.
>>I'd say I like this one better. I like my
smile better in this one. It seems like I
got a nicer side to me.
>>That one. My smile is less wonky and it's
a better angle.
>>I prefer that one because it looks less
wonky and it feels more right.
>>I'm going to go with this one, yeah, I really
can't pinpoint it but that seems more appealing.
>>This one, I just think the light looks a
little bit better.
>>This one. I think its more what I feel I
>>Its definitely that one, because I look
different in that one, it just looks more
>>This one. There's something in the face,
it's the way the face is angled.
>>I think I prefer this one. Do you know what,
actually, I'm going to change my mind, I prefer
this one, probably just the angle of the smile
>>Actually I quite like this one, I like this
one, I look less chubby in this one.
Our results seemed to follow the theories
quite closely. In 60% of cases, people chose
the mirrored image of themselves as the one
When choosing a partners photo the choice
should be the opposite way round. The individuals
should choose the non mirrored image because
that's how they see their partner on a daily
>>Don't forget image A is the mirrored photo
and image B is the normal one.
>>I prefer this one of Shell.
>>That one, it just, its just so much more
him, so much more natural.
>>I prefer this one because he looks more
relaxed and it seems more casual than the
>>I prefer this one, again its really hard
to say but yeah I think this one
>>That one, because the other one, his head
looks more crooked and he doesn't crook his
head like that.
>>This one again
>>This one definitely this one
>>I definitely prefer this one. I like the
smile better on this one.
>>He's got sort of a crooked smile on this
one it looks like, so I prefer this one
>>This one doesn't really look like Alex but
this one does, that's quite clear.
When selecting photos of their partners there
was a 90% accuracy rate in selecting the non-mirrored
image. The theories seem to be accurate. In
our experiment, 15 times out of 20, 75%, the
subjects followed the science, picking mirrored
images of themselves and normal images of
their partner as their preferred photographs.
>>I picked the mirrored one, the one that
I see all the time.
>>But that is how you look.
>>I don't want that to be how I look
>>but you definitely look better in that one
because that one you look really serious.
>>Your telling me that that ones out of balance,
but its still me.
>>It is still you, but it just doesn't look
>>So that ones more natural to you?
>>I think that this one looks more like me,
this is what I see when I look in the mirror
but I obviously don't because this is me.
>>I think its because probably because you
got quite a symmetrical face that its harder
to tell which one is which.
>>I'm used to looking like that.
>>but you do look better in that one, but
that's a good thing because that's how you
>>One of the reasons those who chose the normal
photos of themselves weren't swayed towards
their mirrored images may be because they
have slightly more symmetrical faces and so
it's more difficult to see a difference
In the media, symmetrical faces are also highly
sought after, as they are considered to be
more attractive. So much so in fact that some
images in adverts and magazines are altered
to make facial features such as eyes and ears
identical on both sides.
>>Nowadays pretty much any image that you'll
find in a magazine will have been edited in
someway, so we're going to take a look at
just how much a picture can be manipulated,
using me as the example. Yay.
>>Hello Charlie. Good to meet you meet, lets
get that top off.
>>Before Paul our photographer can work his
magic, he needs some raw material to work
with so its time for my male model debut.
>>Lets have a little bit more arny pose, great
down into the camera, excellent. Give it some
nice attitude Charlie. Thank you Charlie
>>Having worked my best poses, its time for
Tom, my body double to get in front of the
>>Straight down the camera lens, perfect.
>>Paul is going to be replacing my body with
toms and working some other digital miracles.
>>Lovely, that's great mate, fantastic.
>>We all know that images get manipulated
to make people look thinner or have clearer
skin. But they are also changed to make the
person's face appear more symmetrical by duplicating
eyes and other features across the face.
A perfectly proportioned face is an indication
that the body it sits on is well prepared
to fight off infection. The common cold, asthma
and flew, are all more likely to be combated
affectively by those whose left side matches
their right. All of these qualities mean that
symmetrical faces are perceived as being more
Here I am in all of my digitally manipulated
glory, with clear skin, symmetrical features
and a buff new body. To me it looks really
weird, but even if I liked it, the changes
are so extreme that I could never look like
Many young people feel under pressure to look
the same as the celebrities they see in photographs
online and in magazines.
UK residents are set to splash out 659 million
pounds on cosmetic procedures and many of
those will be trying to emulate this false
image of perfection.
By trying to live up to the misleading images
in magazines we are trying to live up to the
impossible. Even the most attractive celebrities
in the world have their photos improved digitally
or even turn to surgery and many of the alterations
made to models in photographs are biologically
We measure ourselves against those people
in the lime light and celebrities. We don't
really measure ourselves against an everyday
person. So when you do look at yourself, you
kind of compare yourself to somebody who probably
isn't a real reflection of what someone in
everyday will look like.
>>You look at somebody and think oh they are
beautiful, all this make up and so slim but
how do you know if its fake or not, its been
touched up so your pressurised to look oh
that's beautiful but no one can look like
that in real life.
>>But I think that people over analyse their
own photos anyway. So where as Dan will think
oh she looks perfect she looks beautiful,
I would notice all those little things because
you over analyse yourself. You could look
as good as someone in the media but its just
you look at yourself and pick at stuff where
as that person will just think oh they look
>>In the photos we all said like oh are faces
look crooked so people might get plastic surgery
thinking oh I got a crooked nose, but then
they actually don't its just the way they
look at themselves in the mirror.
>>After what we have done today I think if
somebody does go and have plastic surgery
on their face to correct their nose, your
partner who knows you best they probably just
see you as totally different and say well
that's not you that's not how I found I was
attracted you, its just totally different.
So familiarity does play a part in attraction
which makes perfect sense. It's important
though that we keep a good perspective about
what's considered 'beautiful' or 'handsome'.
With so many manipulated images around it'd
be easy to feel pressured and unhappy with
ourselves. All of our test subjects found
their partners attractive which goes to show
that reality is beauty even if it's not airbrushed
>>To find out more and test out our chat up
line generator go to scienceofattraction.co.uk