Attractive people less shallow

I’ve just found a disappointing study from the European Journal of Psychology that found that physically attractive people are more likely to be psychologically balanced and accepting than the rest of us.

The study asked 119 participants to complete the Personal Orientation Inventory, a measure of psychological characteristics such as self-acceptance, spontaneity and self-actualisation, while a photo of each was also rated on physical attractiveness by a six person panel.

The study revealed that participants in the high attractiveness group scored significantly higher on 7 of the 12 POI scales in comparison to the participants in the low attractiveness group: Inner-Directed, Self-Actualising Value, Feeling Reactivity, Spontaneity, Self-Regard, Self-Acceptance, and Capacity for Intimate Contact.

The researchers debate why more attractive people might, on average, end up being more psychologically accepting of themselves and others.

They suggest that it could be due to a self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Previous research has shown that good looking people are stereotyped as being more confident, warm, dominant, stable and socially skilled, among other things, and being treated this way could enourage exactly these sorts of behaviours and attitudes.

Personally, I have been trying to cultivate a shallow and empty persona in the hope that it would make me seem more physically attractive but I now realise I should have been saving to enhance my rack as a form of personal development.
 

Link to study.

14 Comments

  1. Ney
    Posted March 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t researchers debate why people who are more psychologically accepting of themselves and others, might, on average, end up being more more attractive?

  2. Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    I think it is because attractive people are freed from the exhausting and time consuming quest to become attractive. It frees them up to think about something other than themselves.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go colour my hair, put nail polish on and then pop out to the shops to find something to wear for an interview tomorrow that will disguise my upper arms and look at once professional and…

    • attractive male
      Posted November 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      False. Attractive people are pressured to be everything they aren’t all the time. We have to be overly everything just so people can feel “comfortable” what about us!

      Everyone goes out their way to make us feel like a piece of meat, or uncomfortable.

      A straight attractive is assumed to be gay, or too good for her. That makes it 50 times harder to get the women you really want, And working out at the gym is a pain as well because no straight man wants gay men glaring at him or other straight men always comparing themselves to him.

      You know it gets old and when you deal with it every single day, think about it.

      every.
      single.
      day.

      you think you really know what pain is.

      Asking to be attractive is like asking for a tough life because that what it really is.

      You have to be mentally tough because everyone is always insulting you trying to take you “down a notch.”

      And when everyone is trying to take you down it isn’t just targeting your emotions, it affects you in the workplace too.

      You can’t get promoted because Johnny Insecure doesn’t like your face.

      You can’t get a date because Sara Sadly thinks your too cocky.

      Get the picture. its a tough tough life.

      • deadendrite
        Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        In response to “attractive male’s” response to my (somewhat flippant) comment…

        Actually, your response does make me think about it a bit more. I *do* think it would be very difficult to live life as the constant target of envy and people always wanting to take you down a notch. I do think that happens a lot. (Likely why those appalling celebrity mag’s do so well). If I was terribly attractive I would likely downplay it a whole lot (perhaps by donning those disguises that the beautiful people who are trying to play “plain” people use in all the movies… though I must say those tend to be sort of silly because their attractiveness is still very apparent… I’m always shouting at the screen “BUT WE CAN SEE YOU ARE STILL BEAUTIFUL DESPITE THOSE GLASSES”… but I digress).

        It *would* be tiring and dispiriting to deal with all the time. Of course, many people deal with that in areas where they might be good at something so it’s not exclusive to attractive people (perhaps we’re not attractive, but we tend to be good at XXX and that causes people to try to take you down a notch). I’ve always hated that sort of thing and why I don’t like the idea of competitions. Someone always loses. And even the winner loses if they aren’t the type to revel in “beating” out someone else… (I suppose this is the upside not having an especially strong talent either, heh, I am spared the pain of “winning”.)

        But, I think it isn’t fair for you to say I don’t know what pain really is. Or that unattractive people in general people don’t know what pain really is. (I’m not sure who you meant, exactly…) EVERYONE knows what pain really is. No-one has a corner on it. But you should not make the mistake of underestimating the pain associated with feeling unattractive not only to people you love (or for that matter society in general), but also to yourself.

        But I suspect we all can feel that, regardless of how we *actually* look. I’m always surprised to learn that ultra attractive people feel they are unattractive also… it’s all relative and it’s a sliding scale… (Which reminds me of a recent blog post that confirms this… by Melissa Stetten AT AEON magazine entitled “Hot girl #2″ which is about what it’s like to be a model… You can read it here if you like: http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/what-is-it-like-to-be-a-model/ — but in a nutshell she seems no happier than the rest of us despite her beauty… or perhaps because of it?)

        So maybe we should agree that we all have our crosses to bear and all that and we should all just work to try and be compassionate to both ourselves and others… (hurl… did I actually write that that loud? I don’t have time to make that sound less cheesy… I’m sure you will all take my rather long and winding point.)

  3. Posted March 14, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Nobody’s discouraging you from your ambitions.

  4. Dmitry
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Mens sana in corpore sano

    Plastic surgery is the next to last measure to adhere to, imho.

  5. BenTher
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Self-acceptance is undoubtedly easier when you’re physically attractive. Moreover, this feeling is reinforced when other people constantly reassure you of your own worth by their attentiveness.

    However, I’m not convinced this actually makes attractive people less neurotic. Indeed, it probably makes them more self-centered and apt to value their own opinions more than is warranted.

  6. Diz Pareunia
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Yes, but I have observed that great physical beauty can be just as distorting to the personality as its opposite, only in different ways.

  7. Posted March 16, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t that depend on the person believing themselves to be physically attractive? I used to work in the modeling industry and know plenty who don’t see themselves that way. What about the person who is physically attractive but suffered some emotional trauma? There is plenty of that as well.

    Because I believe there are many assumptions and expectations made concerning “attractive” people,
    this may be ultimately harmful.

    If a person is stereotyped as being more confident, warm, dominant, stable and socially skilled, how can it be assured that those who really are troubled will be taken seriously and receive the help they need?

    I agree with Ney’s point above. That might be a more fruitful way of going about things.

  8. Posted March 18, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “If a person is stereotyped as being more-confident, warm, dominant, stable and socially skilled, how can it be assured that those who really are troubled will be taken seriously and receive the help they need?”

    I believe this precisely what’s happening with many individuals with traumatic brain injury “TBI”. These characteristics help them through life, but after injury superficially they appear “normal” and “look good”.

    Healthcare professionals label those individuals in a negative light and they struggle for years with multiple brain symptoms solely because they weren’t taken seriously. These individuals are hoping someone is listening, but it doesn’t happen! They are only reporting their symptoms to help themselves and others get better.

    By this the individual suffers and so does society because research is not directed to help TBI individuals. They are labeled as “chronic complainers” and worse. They just want to help others and get better themselves.

  9. Charles Driver
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Is this surprising? Well balanced, emotionally capable people are more likely to treat themselves well, leading to health, leading to attractiveness…

  10. Thomas Kejser
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I greatly enjoy this site and the entire idea of Mind Hacks. But I am sorry, I think there is something strange hypocritical about using the phrase: “a disappointing study” about this finding.

    If a study had instead found that people with high mathematical skills often get better jobs with higher salaries and greater confidence, would we have called that “disappointing” too?

    When scientists find (as it seems they often do) that “beautiful people” have certain traits, there is often a backlash against those results. Why? Of course we should be critical of any findings published. But when the facts are presented to us, applying a “mind over body” judgement seems to imply a certain value system.

    Some people hack their minds, others hack their bodies – I dont see why it should surprise or disappoint that hacking bodies adds up to good results in a statistically significant number of cases.

  11. Posted April 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for citing the research itself. I read it, and as a sociological study, it’s a disappointment. The participant sample and “judges” (modeling recruiters in London) were far too limited for the results to be considered generalizable.

    To their credit, the researchers themselves admit the shortcomings of the project. But let’s not spread this stuff about being well-adjusted and attractive as “fact,” since it’s essentially just “fact” for a bunch of London undergrads.

  12. Daniel
    Posted April 28, 2013 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    I can see why. Attractive people get the fucking world handed to them no matter how much of a dick or bitch they are, while less attractive people, no matter how nice or sweet they are, will only get table scraps of humanity. This forces less attractive people to have a more realistic view of the world. and the realistic view is everything is guided my natural selection, the spoils of evolution. if your not attractive, you might as well be dead to the world. This tends to cause emotional rape. Why should less attractive people be nice and helpful when all they are going to get is shit in return?


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