Not as good as they look: Beautiful people tend to be self-promoting and conformist
08:49 GMT, 24 October 2012
Mixed reflection: Those who are more attractive tend to be more concerned with conforming and promoting themselves
In news that will give a sense of satisfaction to ugly ducklings everywhere, it seems that those who are blessed in the looks department are lacking in other areas of their personality.
Attractive people tend to be self-promoting and conformist, a study has revealed.
In a warning not to judge a book by its cover these findings put an end to the stereotype that ‘what is beautiful is good.’
Instead physically attractive people tend to be less independent and tolerant than those less blessed with good looks.
Psychologists set out to find out if attractive people really have attractive traits and values noting it was difficult to resist the temptation of assuming that a person’s outward appearance reflects something meaningful about his or her inner personality.
Research showed people tend to perceive attractive adults as more social, successful, and well-adjusted than less attractive adults, a phenomenon dubbed ‘what is beautiful is good’ or ‘the halo effect’ whereby we see a ‘halo’ of good qualities around attractive people
It tested the theory outside observers would perceive attractive women as more likely to have socially desirable personality traits than less attractive women.
Specifically they would judge attractive women to be more agreeable, extrovert, conscientious, open to experiences, and emotionally stable than less attractive women.
But the team hypothesised that no such correlation would be found between women’s attractiveness and their perceived values, since judgments about what constitutes a ‘good’ value are likely to vary from observer to observer.
So in an experiment 118 university students were recruited to be either ‘targets’ or ‘judges.’
The targets completed surveys about their values and their traits and were then videotaped entering a room, walking around a table looking at the camera, reading a weather forecast, and leaving the room.
Each judge saw a videotape of a different target, chosen at random, and evaluated the target’s values and traits and then her attractiveness, along with other physical attributes.
Don't judge a book by its cover: The beautiful 'targets' were thought to have more socially desirable personality traits by others but these were not found to be related
Women who were rated as attractive were perceived as having more socially desirable personality traits, such as extroversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness, just as the researchers hypothesised.
Out of the ten types of values, however, only one was thought to be associated with attractiveness: Attractive women were perceived as more likely to value achievement than less attractive women.
But when the researchers looked at the targets’ actual self-reported traits and values, they found the opposite relationships.
Targets’ attractiveness, as rated by the judges, was associated with their self-reported values and not with their personality traits. Women who were rated as attractive were more likely to endorse values focused on conformity and submission to social expectations and self-promotion.
Lihi Segal-Caspi of the Open University who carried out some of the research said: ‘Although some people may think beauty and goodness go together, the results from this study indicate that beautiful people may tend to focus more on conformity and self-promotion than independence and tolerance.’
The study was published in the Journal Psychological Science.