The Ugly Side of Attractive Men
New research shows there could be a downside to being physically attractive. Especially for the really, really ridiculously good looking men out there.
A new study from Brunel University in London has found that the more attractive a man is, the more likely he is to be selfish. The research team – led by senior lecturer in psychology at Brunel University London, Dr Michael Price – set out to explore the relationship between physically attractive features and “attitudes that promote selfishness and inequality” in male and female students.
Using a 3D body scanner, the team measured 125 male and female participants’ bodies, and scored them on standard attractiveness measures such as slimness, waist-to-chest ratio for men, and waist-to-hip ratio for women.
The participants also filled out a personality questionnaire to measure their behaviour and attitudes about inequality and selfishness, and participated in an economics experiment in which they were given money and asked to decide how much to share with someone else.
“We found that attractive men tended to be less egalitarian and less generous. But that wasn’t the case with attractive women,” Dr Price says.
The researchers also discovered that attractive people were more likely to be judged as selfish than others. As part of the research, psychologists asked a group of people to “rate” the 125 scanned body images for attractiveness, and asked a second group of raters to judge how altruistic and egalitarian they thought the people in the images would be in real life.
“We found that the ‘raters’ perceived better-looking men and women as being less altruistic and egalitarian,” Dr Price says, explaining that this common assumption about good-looking people has some scientific basis.
He says the results specifically suggest that “better-looking men may be biased towards being more selfish and less egalitarian”, but that this bias can also be overcome.
“The best way to help people overcome a bias is to make them more conscious that they have it.”
But Dr Price and the team of researchers also note that this study does not mean all attractive men are selfish, and that “many very attractive men will also be very altruistic and egalitarian.” So even if we do judge books by their cover (or people by their looks), it is good to keep an open mind.
The results of the research have been published in an article for the journal Evolutionary Psychology, under the title “Bodily attractiveness and egalitarianism are negatively related in males”. It’s currently available for free download on the journal’s website.