Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Beauty and Goodness

Is there a correlation between "beauty" and "goodness".

Specifically, there are two obvious questions:
(1) In general, Are Beautiful people good? (More "good" than people who are not perceived beautiful)
(2) Do people, in general, think that beautiful people are good?

It is important to observe the subtle difference between the two questions. While the first question concerns a truism about beauty and goodness, the second question merely asks if people, in fact, have stereotyped
notions of the personality traits possessed by individuals of varying attractiveness. In this sense, the second question is more well defined and seems simpler to find out.

It is precisely the second question that Dion et al. sought to answer in their work titled, What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

I have quoted the abstract of their work. You can get the full paper by doing a google or scholar search. It is short and interesting.

A person's physical appearance, along with his sexual identity, is the personal
characteristic that is most obvious and accessible to others in social interaction.
The present experiment was designed to determine whether physically
attractive stimulus persons, both male and female, are (a) assumed to possess
more socially desirable personality traits than physically unattractive stimulus
persons and (6) expected to lead better lives (e.g., be more competent
husbands and wives, be more successful occupationally, etc.) than unattractive
stimulus persons.
The present results indicate a "what is beautiful is good" stereotype along the physical attractiveness dimension.

i think beautiful ppl maybe more competant than non-beautiful ppl given that not much "difference" in grey matter.
those ppl get more attention, which mite lead to them being more socially active, better lovers and what not.
all these just add to thier 'experience' and knowledge of ppl/how-to-do-deal with them. so for more or less same intelligence, beautiful ppl maybe (street)smarter (good?).
yes they are possible reasons.

I think the following is also a prime reason (from the paper): given that people think that attractive people are good; attractive people may be forced to act good because they are expected to be so.

Arun, this is interesting: do you imply being "street smart" is being "good"?
No da, i mean if somebody is street smart we get impression that person is good(not talking abt the actual truth but just the impression we get). And beautful ppl mite tend to show this more. by good i mean the ones mentioned in abstract(not def character)
Assuming only beauty changes significantly in 2 ppl,
beautiful ppl have 2 advantages:
-ppl arnd them may tend to tolerate more mistakes.(to some degree)
-they may have seen several times where somebody bends rules or favors bcos of his/her charmness and u become street smart and manipulative. (again to some extent inheritantly)

so thier beauty as such doesnt directly help, but bcos of the exposure/advantage that comes with it.
overall my belief is that the question raised by the paper is mostly true.
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