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“Am I attractive?” Psychology says you might be hotter than you think

Am I attractive?

This is a question we’ve all asked ourselves.

When we look in the mirror, most of us answer this question with an emphatic “no”.

Occasionally our self-confidence will receive a quick boost when a good looking guy/girl looks at us at the street or a friend tells us how beautiful we are.

But this generally doesn’t last long and we’re back to self-loathing about our own looks.

According to psychologist Gleb Tsipursky, we’re all self-conscious and everyone has a natural tendency to judge their own appearance more harshly than they do others.

But why?

I’m sure you’ve heard most people blame the media and the narrow standard of beauty it imposes.

While it’s true that research has found that the media negatively affects how we judge both ourselves and others, it doesn’t actually explain why we judge ourselves more harshly than others.

But according to psychologist Gleb Tsipursky, there are 2 reasons we judge ourselves harshly:

Gleb Tsipursky says it’s a combination of two things:

1) Our looks are very important to us.

Other people’s beauty doesn’t affect our life as much.

2) We know our looks better than others do.

When we look at others, we have no real reason to pay attention to their good or bad parts or judge them in anyway.

Contrast that to how we see ourselves. It matters to us. We believe it affects how people perceive us and judge us. So of course, we have more reason to pay attention to our own looks.

So what do we pay attention to? Our good points or bad points? According to research, we focus on the bad points because of a popular psychological theory explained below. 

Why you judge your own appearance harshly, according to psychology

A psychology theory called “loss aversion” says that humans hate losing even more than we love winning.

Gleb Tsipursky explains it best:

“Say someone gives you $1000. They say you can either lose $400 of it now, or try to hold on to it all, 50-50 odds to keep it all or lose it all. What would you do? Well, studies show about 61% of people in this situation choose to gamble on keeping everything over a sure loss. Then suppose you get a second deal. You can either keep $600 of your $1000 now, or you can risk losing it all, 50-50 odds again. What would you do? People tend to like keeping the $600 more in this deal, only 43% tend to gamble. Do you see the trick? Losing $400 out of $1000 is the same thing as keeping $600 out of $1000!”

Even when it doesn’t make sense, we avoid the potential of a loss because it hurts us so bad.

So, when it comes to our looks, given the choice, would we pay attention to what could make us look good, or to what could make us look bad?

Because we’re more afraid of what could make us lose in terms of our looks, we focus on our negative points.

Gleb Tsipursky says that we check ALL of our flaws when we look in the mirror and the balanced beauty assessment we give others is lost when we view ourselves.

Plus, our flaws have our attention which now becomes more important than what you’re not paying attention to. In psychology, this is called attentional bias.

It’s a fact that if you spend more time examining your flaws, and little time appreciating your good points, the flaws will stick out in your mind.

Since others don’t have the ability to criticize us like we can, and they don’t have any reason to pay attention to our flaws, other people’s assessment of us is more balanced.

So, how can we achieve a more, natural balanced view of our looks?

It’s a tough question, considering that even the most beautiful people can sometimes be down about their own looks.

According to psychologist Gleb Tsipursky, we simply need to make an effort to pay attention to our good points.

Appreciate what you like about yourself  and overtime, you’ll begin to see yourself with a natural balance that others see you with. In fact, this is where undertaking a “self-love ritual” can help. 

RELATED: I was deeply unhappy…then I discovered this one Buddhist teaching

How to tell if other people think you’re attractive

Of course, what most of us really want to know is how other people perceive us.

It’s difficult to work out, but new research has provided us with some clues.

Nicholas Epley, a behavioural scientist, and psychologist Tal Eyal, discussed in their book a fascinating technique to understand what the people around you are thinking.

As we previously discussed, we judge ourselves more harshly than we do others. We know every little detail about the way we look, but we look at others in a more abstract way.

So, according to Epley and Eyal, we need to see ourselves as a stranger would.

How do we do that?

Eyal and Epley have created a fascinating technique to do just that.

Past research found that time helps people view their own appearance or actions more abstractly.

For example, if you see a photo of yourself from yesterday, you’ll judge it more harshly than if you see a photo of yourself from months or years ago.

In fact, Epley and Eyal say that the passage of time helps people judge themselves more accurately about how they look.

In an experiment, Epley and Eyal found that participants who rated their photos months later (compared to the same day) were more accurate at predicting how other people would rate their attractiveness.

While this is a good strategy to work out how other people may perceive us, the biggest lesson here is that we shouldn’t be too worried about how other people do perceive us.

Other people don’t judge us with anywhere near the same level of scrutiny as we do ourselves.

In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff about how you look. Other people aren’t.

Why looks may not be as important as you think

If you’re reading this article, then I’m guessing that you’ve searched “Am I attractive?”

While we’re all curious about how attractive we really are, what you also need to understand is that looks might not be as important as you think.

According to a study published in Psychological Science, the level of attractiveness means less than you think for the quality of your relationship.

The study surveyed 167 couples and asked each partner to rate how satisfied they were in their current relationship.

They also measured each partner’s attractiveness.

Here’s what they found: Attractiveness had absolutely no bearing on relationship satisfaction.

According to the study:

“We found that romantic partners who were similarly attractive were no more likely to feel satisfied with their relationship than romantic partners who were not similarly attractive. Specifically, in our sample of dating and married couples, we did not find an association between partner matching in attractiveness and satisfaction with the relationship for either women or men.”

What’s more, people also have different ideas about what’s attractive. According to lead researcher of the study:

“Perceptions of a partner’s attractiveness can change over time, deviating from the ‘average’ perception of that partner’s attractiveness.”

“So even if most people might rate a particular person as a 5 out of 10 on attractiveness, that person’s partner may rate the person as an 8. In short, it is not that physical attractiveness is unimportant, but rather perceptions of attractiveness can change, becoming increasingly unique as individuals get to know one another better over time.”

The lesson from this study is simple: Looks aren’t everything and there are many other qualities that makes for a good partner and a happy relationship.

In fact, we’ve scoured through research to find 10 factors to attractiveness that have nothing to do with physical appearance.

Check them out:

How to make yourself more attractive (that have nothing to do with “looks”)

Research has found that there are more important factors than looks to someone being seen as attractive.

So we’ve gone through scientific research to bring to you 10 factors to attractiveness that have nothing to do with physical attractive.

If you really want to be seen as attractive, work on these!

1) Be funny

Laughing is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

So it’s no surprise that science says that funny people are more attractive.

According to research, a big indicator of romantic connection is if two people are spotted laughing together.

2) Get and keep good friends

Research has shown that people appear more attractive when they have a large social circle.

Why?

Because it makes someone appear more well liked and kind.

So if you want to be more attractive, work on your friendship circles. It takes effort to build strong social circles!

3) Be a leader

People are attracted to power. A 2014 study found that people involved in a group thought their leader was attractive. But if they weren’t in the group, they didn’t agree.

There are many different ways you can be a leader. You can teach people how to do things, and help people reach success.

4) Skip the small-talk

Deep and meaningful talks makes a person appear more attractive.

Harvard research found that when you talk about yourself meaningfully, it helps activate the same regions of the brain as sex or a good meal.

5) Smile

A study in Switzerland found that the more you smile, the more attractive you seem.

6) Get a pet

In a University of Michigan experiment, participants who read a story about a man with a dog and man without found rated the man with the dog as more attractive.

Why?

Because owning a pet means that you’re probably nurturing and capable of long-term commitments.

7) Be nice

A 2014 Chinese study found that when someone is more nice, they find the person much more attractive. Sometimes, all we really want is to be treated with respect.

8) Get yourself a nice pad

Getting a good place will literally elevate your status in life.

A study found that a man with a high status place was more attractive than a man with a netural status place.

9) Play an instrument

A study in 2014 found that people who played an isntrument appeared more attractive.

Why?

According to the study:

“The ability to create complex music could be indicative of advanced cognitive abilities,” said said the lead researcher at the University College, Dublin. “Consequently, women may acquire genetic benefits for offspring by selecting musicians able to create more complex music as sexual partners.”

10) Be confident

As most people already know, self-confidence is probably one of the most attractive qualities one can have.

How do you build self-confidence? It’s all about being okay with who you are and accepting yourself.

Below are 5 ways to practice self-love so you can be more confident and proud of who you are.

RELATED: What J.K Rowling can teach us about mental toughness

5 steps to loving yourself and how you look

I realize that “self-love” can seem a bit wishy-washy and without substance, but the fact is, by practicing some self-love rituals every day, you can slowly change your mindset to be positive about yourself and how you look.

And in the end, self-confidence is one of the most important factors for attractiveness.

So if you think that you’d like to change your mindset, here are 5 steps you can take to feel better about yourself:

1) Create a “body self-love ritual”

This is a type of meditation practice that can help you get in touch with your own body. Every morning (or whenever you have time) dedicate 15 minutes to yourself without any distractions.

What you’re going to do is go through your whole body and thank it for doing its job throughout your life.

For example, you can thank your hands for all the introductions and activities they’ve enabled you do. You can thank your nose for providing clean air to your body.

It’s about getting in touch with your body and realizing that every part serves a significant function.

In short, you’ll realize that there’s nothing wrong with you at all.

2) Create a “What I Love About My Body” list

It’s time to set aside those limiting beliefs and focus on your positives. Write down everything you love about your face and body, even if it’s small.

Once you spend 30 minutes thinking of everything you love about yourself, keep it somewhere you can access every day for the next week.

Once you read it to yourself every day for at least a week, you’ll begin to rewire your brain to be more grateful and loving of yourself.

3) Treat your body like a love vessel

One thing is certain in this life: We all get a body, and it’s up to us to take responsibility for it.

So be compassionate towards it!

If unhealthy food isn’t good for your body in the long run, then don’t have it. Intuitively you know what’s good for your body and what isn’t. Make sure you take responsibility of it.

4) Stop comparing yourself to others

We all do it. It’s human nature to compare yourself to others. But comparing can steal joy and self-esteem from your own life.

One of the most powerful things you can do to improve yourself is to let go of comparing yourself and focus on the present moment.

Here are some wise words from spiritual guru Osho:

“Nobody can say anything about you. Whatsoever people say is about themselves. But you become very shaky, because you are still clinging to a false center. That false center depends on others, so you are always looking to what people are saying about you. And you are always following other people, you are always trying to satisfy them. You are always trying to be respectable, you are always trying to decorate your ego. This is suicidal. Rather than being disturbed by what others say, you should start looking inside yourself…

Whenever you are self-conscious you are simply showing that you are not conscious of the self at all. You don’t know who you are. If you had known, then there would have been no problem— then you are not seeking opinions. Then you are not worried what others say about you— it is irrelevant!
Your very self-consciousness indicates that you have not come home yet.”

5) Do something you’re good at

This is the ultimate self-esteem booster.

When you dislike the way you look, it shows that your self-esteem isn’t where it should be.

So go out there and do something you’re good at. It could be something small like organizing your room, writing, running or any creative task.

Doing what you’re good at is the surest quickfire way to boost your self-esteem.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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