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Front Psychol. 2017 May 18;8:778. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00778. eCollection 2017.

Attractiveness Is Multimodal: Beauty Is Also in the Nose and Ear of the Beholder.

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Institute of Psychology, University of WroclawWroclaw, Poland.
Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group, School of Psychology, University of SussexSussex, United Kingdom.
Department of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine, Technische Universität DresdenDresden, Germany.
Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Charles UniversityPrague, Czechia.
The Maria Grzegorzewska UniversityWarsaw, Poland.
Department of Anthropology-Center for Brain, Behavior, and Cognition-Center for Human Evolution and Diversity, The Pennsylvania State University, University ParkPA, United States.
Division of Psychology, University of StirlingStirling, United Kingdom.


Attractiveness plays a central role in human non-verbal communication and has been broadly examined in diverse subfields of contemporary psychology. Researchers have garnered compelling evidence in support of the evolutionary functions of physical attractiveness and its role in our daily lives, while at the same time, having largely ignored the significant contribution of non-visual modalities and the relationships among them. Acoustic and olfactory cues can, separately or in combination, strongly influence the perceived attractiveness of an individual and therefore attitudes and actions toward that person. Here, we discuss the relative importance of visual, auditory and olfactory traits in judgments of attractiveness, and review neural and behavioral studies that support the highly complex and multimodal nature of person perception. Further, we discuss three alternative evolutionary hypotheses aimed at explaining the function of multiple indices of attractiveness. In this review, we provide several lines of evidence supporting the importance of the voice, body odor, and facial and body appearance in the perception of attractiveness and mate preferences, and therefore the critical need to incorporate cross-modal perception and multisensory integration into future research on human physical attractiveness.


acoustic cues; multimodal perception; olfactory cues; physical attractiveness; smell; voice

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