It takes just a third of a second to become attracted to someone

Love at first blink! Scientists discover it takes just a third of a second to become attracted to someone

  • Neuroscientists say people identify someone’s gender after 244 milliseconds
  • They then give a verdict on their attractiveness just 59 milliseconds later 
  • We may have evolved to spot attractiveness quickly to increase chances of selecting suitable mate – with good looks associated with higher intelligence and better health

Songwriters might insist that it only takes a minute to fall in love – but scientists have found that it actually happens a lot faster than that.

New research has discovered that it takes less than a third of a second – faster than the blink of an eye – for anyone to size up the attractiveness of a potential partner.

Neuroscientists say people identify someone’s gender after 244 milliseconds, then give a verdict on their attractiveness just 59 milliseconds later.

New research has discovered that it takes less than a third of a second – faster than the blink of an eye – for anyone to size up the attractiveness of a potential partner. (Posed by models)


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The research was inspired by social media – and might come as no surprise to anyone who has rapidly scrolled through countless profile pictures on dating apps such as Tinder.

Neuroscientists say people identify someone’s gender after 244 milliseconds, then give a verdict on their attractiveness just 59 milliseconds later. (Posed by models)

One theory is that we have evolved to spot attractiveness quickly to increase the chances of selecting a suitable mate, with good looks associated with higher intelligence and better health.

A team of psychologists, led by Professor Claus-Christian Carbon at the University of Bamberg in Germany, monitored the brain activity of 25 undergraduates as they viewed 100 portraits and registered their gender and whether they were attractive.

Prof Carbon said the speed with which assessments are made once someone’s sex has been determined suggests that people are ‘strongly guided by gender stereotypes’ of what is considered attractive. 

‘Although it might be regarded as highly unfair, facial attractiveness is a door-opener in everyday life,’ he adds. 

‘Attractive adults are perceived as more intelligent, and physically attractive people overall show a higher satisfaction with life and happiness.’

His team’s research has just been published in the journal Neuroscience Letters.

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