Psychologists looking through three decades of research discovered that how a prospective partner smells is key.
Someone’s scent forms an important part of our first impression of them as it can give us clues about them.
Also, while we tend to pick a partner with a face that is similar to our own, they must smell different to us, as those who are related to us tend to smell similar.
The sound of someone’s voice was also important, with women tending to pick men with deep, masculine-sounding voices, especially when looking for a shorter relationship, while men often listen out for high-pitched voices.
The report, by Polish and British scientists, says we form our first impressions on others based on sound and smell, even from some distance. How someone smells can give hints about their personality, age and how healthy or fertile they are. Women appear to care more about how someone smells than men, according to the review, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Meanwhile, we use vocal cues to judge a person’s emotional state and dominance. The authors suggest the brain is ‘hard-wired’ to process faces and voices together.
Speaking about the role of voices when looking for love, study co-author Katarzyna Pisanski, from the University of Sussex, said: “Women are attracted to very masculine voices because they associate them with a larger body size and dominance, but how much they prefer them varies.
“Women want a masculine voice in a short-term relationship, but in longer-term relationships they appear to want someone who sounds relatively less masculine.
“This might be because women think they might be more likely to stick around.
“How much people prefer a certain smell or voice can depend on the individual, and whether perfumes and aftershaves can cloud or enhance a person’s natural smell is still debated, which raises the question for future research of whether people could fake their sound or smell to attract others.”
The study’s lead author, Agata Groyecka, from the University of Wroclaw in Poland, said: “Recently, most reviews have focused on visual attractiveness.
But literature about other senses and their role in social relations has grown rapidly and should not be neglected.”
She added: “Perceiving others through all three channels gives a more reliable and broader variety of information about them.”