Our Bias Toward Beauty

Beauty and the Beast – a classic tale of a beautiful woman who's able to learn to love a man, despite his ugly exterior. Why don't we have the reverse myth? The superstud man who's able to see beyond an ugly woman's exterior to love the person within?

I can't get too serious on Eye Candy Week, but think about the subtle message. A woman needs to look beyond the exterior. A man does not.

It's no surprise therefore, that men freely admit that the number one thing they look for in sizing up a woman is physical appearance. Quick quiz: If they had to choose, would they go for a pretty face and an unattractive body, or a less-attractive face paired with a great body? (Answer below.)

Women often say they are more interested in a man's personality traits – a good sense of humor, sensitivity, etc. when evaluating a man as a romantic interest.

But I read about a clever study in which women were told they were hooked up to lie detectors. Those women reported much more interest in the physical characteristics of men they were evaluating as potential dating partners. )

We've all heard about dating sites where they "match" you based on your profiles and interests. Does it work? One large study I read about tried to use a computer to match students (750 of them!) based on a wide range of information – intelligence, personality traits, attitudes about different topics. After the paired students interacted with their blind date, they were asked how they felt about their partner. Turns out, the only factor that determined how satisfied they were with their match-up was physical appearance! Think carefully before spending money on any computerized dating service.

Why is physical appearance so important when thinking about romance?

- We prefer beauty in all things, not just people (artwork, flowers, scenery)

- Beauty is a positive trait and so we associate other positive traits with it (The beautiful person is smarter, more social, more successful). Studies prove this "halo" effect is true.

- From an evolutionary perspective, more attractive people look healthier and thus we prefer to choose them as mates

Despite all the forgoing, physical appearance is ultimately nothing more than a screening device. If you don't get beyond it to choose a mate based on shared interests, common values, and matching personalities, you may never find your true love.

Answer: Men prefer the better body over the prettier face (mating instinct?)

1 comment:

Nicole North said...

Great post! Absolutely. In my opinion, the same things that influenced cave men and women are still influencing us today in terms of attraction and mate selection. :)