Research Shows Wearing Sunglasses Makes You More Attractive

The author of a new comprehensive book on the history of sunglasses explains the science and psychology behind our perception of them.

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Summer time and the living's easy, trusted you've got a pair of shades to protect you from the sun's bright blistering rays. But protecting your eyes isn't the only reason to put on a cool pair of sunglasses. There's a common social understanding that sunglasses make you look cooler and more attractive. Research from the academic world has begun to confirm those societal whims. Vanessa Brown, Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and author of the upcoming book Cool Shades: The History and Meaning of Sunglasses, tells Melissa Dahl of NY Mag that wearing sunglasses in fact does make you hotter. The explanation exists in the eye of the beholder.

What's the Big Idea?

Brown tells Dahl her research has led her to draw several conclusions about why sunglasses make the wearer more attractive. The first is that wearing shades boosts facial symmetry, long connected with societal perceptions of beauty. Second, wearing sunglasses boosts your mystery factor. Many interpersonal connections and assumptions are made via eye contact. Shielding your eyes makes you more difficult to figure out and therefore more compelling. Other research suggests wearing shades makes people feel less at risk of scrutiny, empowering them to behave more boldly. Finally, a century's worth of sharp advertising has connected sunglasses to edginess and glamor; it's rare that our cultural barometers of "cool" aren't shielding their eyes.

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Photo credit: Luna Vandoorne / Shutterstock

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