Good-looking people are not what we think

Alan Feingold
1992 Psychological bulletin  
Meta-analysis was used to examine findings in 2 related areas: experimental research on the physical attractiveness stereotype and correlational studies of characteristics associated with physical attractiveness. The experimental literature found that physically attractive people were perceived as more sociable, dominant, sexually warm, mentally healthy, intelligent, and socially skilled than physically unattractive people. Yet, the correlational literature indicated generally trivial
more » ... ips between physical attractiveness and measures of personality and mental ability, although good-looking people were less lonely, less socially anxious, more popular, more socially skilled, and more sexually experienced than unattractive people. Self-ratings of physical attractiveness were positively correlated with a wider range of attributes than was actual physical attractiveness. Do good-looking people differ from unattractive people and, if so, why? Now consider self-perceptions of physical attractiveness. Do people who view themselves as physically appealing different from their counterparts who hold modest opinions of their own physical appearance and, if so, why? This article examines and integrates theories and empirical findings from the physical attractiveness literature to address these interesting questions. Conceptualization and Measurement of Attractiveness What is physical attractiveness? Social scientists, like laymen, believe that beauty is denned by social consensus (Berscheid & Walster, 1974; Hatfield & Sprecher, 1986) . Accordingly, researchers measure physical attractiveness by use of judges, with each judge asked to provide an independent rating of the physical attractiveness of each subject, a procedure strikingly similar to the notorious 1 -to-10 attractiveness-rating scale often used in the "real world" when people first observe strangers of the opposite sex. These assessments are then averaged over judges by subject to yield physical attractiveness ratings (e.g., Walster, . Since the mid-1960s, scores of studies have correlated such pooled physical attractiveness judgments (sometimes called objective physical attractiveness) with other characteristics, including personality traits, cognitive ability, popularity, social skills, and sexual experience I want to thank Ronald Mazzella for assistance in the preparation of data for meta-analysis, two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on a draft of this article, and the following researchers for providing me with unpublished findings for this review:
doi:10.1037//0033-2909.111.2.304 fatcat:5xg5zywunrek7h4cjj77dh64ne