The unexpected facial feature that makes men more attractive

When someone asks a person what they find attractive about a man, the usual responses are eyes, body, smile — but there may be something else catching their attention. A study published in Personality & Individual Differences indicates that light facial scarring actually makes men seem more attractive — when their partners are looking for a fling.

Researchers aren't entirely sure why facial scars are considered to be so appealing. The prevailing theory is that mild scarring indicates strength, bravery, and a more risk-taking personality — all desirable characteristics for a short-term partner (via The Guardian). These traits also indicate a more "masculine" personality.

The perceived reason for the scarring also seems to be crucial to how attractive men seem to potential partners. The study in Personality & Individual Differences notes that intentional scarring, like tattoos, or scars sustained through a violent encounter, are perceived differently than unintentional scars that may indicate a past illness. Such scars, like those from chicken pox or surgery, may raise subconscious biological concerns about health and virility.

What about women, or men without scars?

The presence of facial scarring made no difference for women's perceived attractiveness, but men gained nearly six percentage points of appeal when they sported a scar. However, that increase seems to only apply to short term relationships. Women were rated equally as attractive for either short or long-term relationships, while men without scars seemed like better marriage material. The thought is that men without scars seem gentler, and therefore would make more caring partners (via EurekAlert).

Although this finding came as a surprise to the Liverpool-based research team, there's lots of precedent for the appeal of scars in non-Western cultures. For example, a tribe in Venezuela often accentuates battle scars from ritualized fights with face-paint, emphasizing the man's strength and endurance (via ScienceDaily). So if you have a scar on your face, flaunt it — as it turns out, you're most likely exactly what that perfect match is looking for.