Turns out being sexy really is just about being yourself, according to a new study published in Evolution and Human Behaviour.
Past research has found that a number of traits that people find sexually attractive are linked to internal factors such as fertility or resistance to disease - but scientists at Queens University in Ontario wanted to find out whether these traits needed to be consistent.
“Most previous work on attractiveness focused on the effect of isolated features.” Dr. Nikolaus Troje said in a statement. “The current study demonstrates how important it is that these features fit together well.”
Dr. Nikolaus Troje, Queens University
Dr Troje's team used light displays of 15 moving dots in two different experiments to pinpoint people's shapes, which were rated for attractiveness, and separately rated their movements for attractiveness too.
But mixing the light points from a body shape rated as very attractive with movements that had been rated as very attractive didn't mean the hybrid image was rated as attractive too - in fact, because the respondents could pick up on the inconsistency between the shape and the movements, the hybrids were rated more negatively overall.
The logic goes, says Troje, that if a physically attractive person tries to emulate a catwalk strut but can't pull it off, they are seen as less attractive, because our brains are very alert towards mismatches.
Similarly, Troje said, other mis-matches in appearance might be off-putting to potential mates, because overall appearance is more important than individual traits. So if you dye your hair blonde, which some people think is individually attractive, but your eyebrows don't match "it might not work because it might signal to someone else that there is something odd about you," Dr Troje said.
“Our visual system is a sensitive lie detector that perceives even the slightest inconsistencies and responds negatively to them,” he added.