Thursday, May 11, 2006

More Beauty

Tyler Cowen links to an excellent summary of much of the psych lit on beauty. The evidence it discusses provide foundation to the hypothesis that beauty is an important source of social capital/social skills. People (starting at infancy and even including mother's responses to their children) are drawn to attractive people. This gives pretty people an advantage in social markets. Being treated differently in social situations throughout life almost certainly changes the social skills these individuals develop.

Three things in the article stood out to me. First, psychologists have found that "moms of attractive first-born infants were more attentive and affectionate than moms of less attractive first-borns," that "attractiveness is significantly related to social acceptance and popularity for girls throughout the entire school year. For boys, low attractiveness is associated with rejection by peers. Moreover, the likelihood that unattractive boys would be rejected increased, not decreased, as the school year progressed and as the boys became better acquainted." (They imply that unattractiveness directly causes this effect, but it could be that unattractiveness is correlated with less friendly personalities (see lack of maternal attention above) and that is why this pattern is observed.)

Second, they show that infants respond to attractiveness. They show, "Babies look longer at adult-judged attractive faces than at unattractive faces, regardless of whether the face is male or female, white or black, adult or infant" and "The infants more frequently avoided the stranger when she was unattractive than when she was attractive, and they showed more negative emotion and distress in the unattractive than in the attractive condition. Furthermore, boys (but not girls) approached the female stranger more often in the attractive than in the unattractive condition, perhaps foreshadowing the types of interactions that may later occur at parties and other social situations when the boys are older!"

Finally, who is pretty? Well, people who look average. Not people who are average within the attractiveness distribution, but rather people whose faces resemble a composite of lots of faces.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]