10 Pleasures and Pains of Being Beautiful - PsyBlog (2022)

We may associate beauty with truth, but beauty is also threatening and sparks our defences.

Beautiful people are all around us: on billboards, on TV and at the movies—some of them even inhabit our everyday lives.

Great beauty in another person inspires all kinds of emotions: admiration, desire, hope, despair and sometimes envy.

So what is the psychological effect of beauty and how do other people react to it? In fact being beautiful isn’t all good, or so the psychological research suggests. Here are both sides of the coin, first five pleasures and then five pains of being beautiful.

Five pleasures of being beautiful

1. What is beautiful is good

In many situations we automatically defer to beauty, assuming that along with beauty come all sorts of other positive characteristics. We have a tendency to think beautiful people are funnier, more friendly, more intelligent, more exciting, in possession of better social skills, are sexually warmer, are more interesting, poised and even more independent.

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These sorts of judgements have been tested over-and-over again in the laboratory and elsewhere. This is a great example of the so-called ‘halo effect‘: when global evaluations about a person bleed over into our judgements about their specific traits.

2. More desired

There’s a whole stack of research on mate selection and attractiveness. You won’t find the headline result at all surprising: on pure looks alone we prefer partners who are more beautiful.

Of course that assumes that everything else is equal, which it normally isn’t.

3. Better persuaders

Good-looking people make better persuaders (Chaiken, 1979). This may be because attractive people tend to be better communicators and possess more confidence or just because we believe in beauty. Whatever the reason, beauty can persuade us to change our minds.

4. Get paid more

At work attractive people can receive all kinds of benefits. First of all they may get higher starting salaries, perhaps because their qualifications are perceived as more solid and their potential as greater (this is the halo effect workings its magic). Then, later on, they have an advantage in promotions.

5. Higher self-esteem

Not surprisingly, given all the above advantages, good-looking people also have higher self-esteem. What with all those dates and the extra money, is it any wonder they think better of themselves than their less fortunate peers?

Five pains of being beautiful

Now for the bad news about being beautiful. The beauty bias is probably not as strong as some have suggested and not as powerful as we might imagine (Eagly et al., 1991). For example, when it comes to income, in most lines of work it’s better to be smarter than more attractive (Judge et al., 2009). The same goes for persuasion, self-esteem and even attraction: other personal qualities can easily trump beauty.

Psychologists have also begun to uncover the dark side of being beautiful. Given what we already know about the beautiful it may be difficult to have much sympathy, but here are five pains:

1. Less likely to be hired (sometimes)

Although beauty can help in the search for a job, it’s not always true. When employers are making a decision about someone of the same sex, they can let their jealousy get the better of them.

One recent study has suggested that people who are highly attractive are at a disadvantage in the hiring process when the decision-makers are the same sex (Agthe et al., 2011). It seems we perceive beautiful people who are the same sex as a threat.

2. Beauty is beastly

Similarly there’s evidence that female beauty can be a problem in jobs with strong gender stereotypes. For example a beautiful woman may be at a disadvantage when applying for a job which is associated with masculinity, like a prison guard or a mechanical engineer (Johnson et al, 2010).

The same doesn’t seem to be true for attractive men. They can happily apply for jobs as nurses, lingerie salespersons or HR managers without their beauty counting against them.

3. Perceived to be less talented

The halo effect tells us that when we judge more attractive members of the opposite sex, we generally assume they’re more talented than those who are less attractive. This happens even though what they do or say is no cleverer than less attractive people.

But this changes when it’s members of the same sex. In a study by Anderson and Nida (1978) highly attractive people of the same sex were judged as less talented than average-looking people.

4. Lucky to be pretty

If beautiful people are successful, is it because of their talent, or is it just their looks? After all, people are lucky to be beautiful and we know all the advantages of that.

Research finds that when judging their own sex, people are more likely to think beautiful people’s success is down to their beauty, not their talent (Forsterling et al., 2007). So you’re lucky to be pretty, but probably just rely on that rather than talent.

5. Social rejection

Although attractive people are generally more popular socially, there’s some evidence that very attractive people can experience social rejection from members of their own sex (Krebs and Adinolfi, 1978).

People in relationships also protect themselves from beauty by ignoring it. Research shows that when we’re thinking about love we automatically ignore attractive members of the opposite sex, probably to protect our feelings about our long-term partner (Maner et al., 2008).

Gender and jealousy

Most of the research has been done on heterosexuals but it’s possible similar biases operate for gay people. For both gay and straight, the extent of the biases probably depends on how attractive you are (or at least how attractive you perceive yourself to be). People who are themselves attractive probably don’t feel as defensive around other attractive people, so the biases are likely to be weaker for them.

Although we all know about the benefits of being beautiful, it’s easy to forget the pitfalls. This psychological research is a reminder that beauty can be threatening. It can threaten our relationships, our work and our image of ourselves. We admire it and defer to it, but sometimes we have to defend ourselves against it.

Image credit: Mahdi Abdulrazak & Gioia De Antoniis


10 Pleasures and Pains of Being Beautiful - PsyBlog? ›

Five pains of being beautiful
  • Less likely to be hired (sometimes) Although beauty can help in the search for a job, it's not always true. ...
  • Beauty is beastly. ...
  • Perceived to be less talented. ...
  • Lucky to be pretty. ...
  • Social rejection.
Aug 16, 2011

What are the benefits of being beautiful? ›

8 Scientifically Proven Reasons Life Is Better If You're...
  • #1 Beautiful people are viewed as healthier.
  • #2 Beautiful people are actually healthier.
  • #3 It's easier for beautiful people to find mates.
  • #4 Beautiful people are more intelligent.
  • #5 Beautiful people are more persuasive.
Jun 12, 2013

Are there benefits to being attractive? ›

It turns out, being conventionally beautiful has its benefits. According to science, people who are perceived as attractive are more likely to get hired for jobs and seem trustworthy. They are also thought to be healthier and lead a happier life.

Is being beautiful a burden? ›

Beautiful people also only rarely look beyond attractiveness to what's really important in a relationship. And so their beauty causes them a lot of trouble, and is actually a burden. We're not only drawn to their physical appeal.

What makes a woman gorgeous? ›

Men prefer women with a big and beautiful smile, wide waist-hip ratio, unique dressing style, healthy-looking hair, great sense of humor, smart conversations, and appealing high-pitched voices, among the most beautiful things guys find in girls.

What are disadvantages of being beautiful? ›

Five pains of being beautiful
  • Less likely to be hired (sometimes) Although beauty can help in the search for a job, it's not always true. ...
  • Beauty is beastly. ...
  • Perceived to be less talented. ...
  • Lucky to be pretty. ...
  • Social rejection.
Aug 16, 2011

Why is beauty so important? ›

Beauty has the power to spawn aspiration and passion, thus becoming the impetus to achieve our dreams. In our professional lives as fashion designers, we often deal with beauty as a physical manifestation. But beauty can also be an emotional, creative and deeply spiritual force.

How long do beautiful girls live? ›

The most attractive women lived to an average age of 76, three more than those who weren't rated as all that hot.

Does beauty give you power? ›

Physical attractiveness does create a powerful first impression on the mind, so powerful in fact that we may go much beyond looks and simply start generating assumptions about a person's success, status, parenting, and intelligence, even if they prove not to be true.

How can I be prettier? ›

15 Clever Tricks To INSTANTLY Look Prettier! - YouTube

Why do pretty faces always win? ›

New research suggests that our brain rewards us for looking at pretty faces. Few visual impressions can be compared to humans' interest for faces. New research suggests that our brain rewards us for looking at pretty faces. A quick glimpse of a face provides us with rich information about the person in front of us.

Do beautiful people feel lonely? ›

Yes. Beauties can be lonely. But, calling beautiful people lonely is false, especially when all types of people are more likely to associate with them, they have more social opportunities, and can be more liked…even platonically. Compare them to an incel—trust me, the average loneliness is nothing compared to theirs.

How do I know if I am attractive? ›

9 Ways To Notice Your Attractiveness
  1. You don't get many compliments. ...
  2. You grab people's attention and make them stare. ...
  3. A person's behavior seems strange, which may be the case because they find you attractive.
  4. People gravitate toward you. ...
  5. People send you messages or contact you.
Apr 28, 2022

What men look for in a wife? ›

Like women, men want a life partner who will be trustworthy, faithful and reliable. They want a wife who will stand by their side and, considering divorce rates, it's no surprise that dependability would continue to be attractive.

What do guys find attractive in a girl? ›

Men prefer a woman who can stay calm and relaxed. Beauty is more than make-up and a fancy haircut. Men find women more attractive when they are neat and clean. Men find women who smell nice, who have clean hair and hydrated skin more attractive than a face perfectly covered in makeup.

What do guys look for in a girl physically? ›

It's biologically wired in men to want a girl with a large behind, primarily because it's a sign of good health. The rounder your butt is, the more likely it is that guys take notice. Most men love booty, even if they won't admit it. No, you don't need to have large breasts to get guys to pay attention to you.

Does beauty affect personality? ›

Research on personality has shown that perceiving a person as attractive fosters positive expectations about his/her personal characteristics. Literature has also demonstrated a significant link between personality traits and occupational achievement.

Is life better if you are attractive? ›

Research suggests life works a little better for conventionally attractive people. Attractive people get paid more, get considered for more jobs, and have stronger social skills than unattractive people, according to science.

Can a person be too attractive? ›

Other elements of attractiveness, such as body shape, weight, and skin color, can be more subjective and influenced by culture. There are less physical things that can make a person seem attractive, too, like a person's confidence, smell, or voice.

What kind of person is beautiful? ›

“Beauty is skin-deep” the saying goes, and it seems most of you agree when you describe what you consider most beautiful in a person. Confidence, kindness, happiness, dignity and intelligence all ranked in the top five out of 19 attributes that people said make the opposite and same sex beautiful.

What is the value of beauty? ›

Beauty begets quality and should be considered every step of the way. It enables quick iteration and collaboration, and defines the quality of work surrounding it. By investing time in getting things right from the start, you make it easier for yourself and others to improve upon and interact with your work.

Why does beauty make us happy? ›

From an evolutionary standpoint, beauty can make us happy because attractiveness implies health, which in turn implies strong reproductive capabilities, which allows us to attract more successful mates. People's physical beauty can help with dating and often it spells a path to economic success.

Why do females live longer? ›

Biological differences also help to explain women's higher longevity. Scientists believe that estrogen in women combats conditions such as heart disease by helping reduce circulatory levels of harmful cholesterol. Women are also thought to have stronger immune systems than men.

Who lives more male or female? ›

According to Ansberry, it is a well-known fact that women tend to outlive men. As of 2017, life expectancy for men was 76.1 years, while life expectancy for women reached 81.1 years. And researchers estimate that the gap in longevity will continue.

What is the average age for a female to live? ›

The average American man will live to age 76, according to the latest CDC figures, while the average woman in America will live to age 81. And a woman's extra years tend to be healthy ones.

How can I be hot? ›

Here are 40 tips to be more sexy almost immediately.
  1. Always Make Eye Contact. ...
  2. Focus on Dynamic Attractiveness. ...
  3. You've Got A Brain—Use It! ...
  4. Humor Counts. ...
  5. Get Your Hair Blown Out. ...
  6. Expose Your Wrists. ...
  7. Take Up Yoga. ...
  8. Test Out Some Sexy Lingerie.
Dec 6, 2017

How can I be a prettiest girl naturally? ›

How to Become The Most Beautiful Girl Naturally
  1. Whiten Teeth. This is something that many women forget about when it comes to looking prettier. ...
  2. Take Care of Skin. ...
  3. Be Confident. ...
  4. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  5. Massage Face. ...
  6. Keep Hair Healthy. ...
  7. Maintain Good Posture. ...
  8. Wear Clothes That Fit Well.
Sep 24, 2021

How can I make my face more attractive? ›

6 Tricks to Make Your Face 200% MORE Attractive! - YouTube

What are the signs of beautiful face? ›

Evaluating Beauty: 12 Things that make a Face Seem Really Beautiful
  • Golden ratio proportions – a triangular face (slimmer on the lower face than on the upper face)
  • Larger eyes.
  • Wider-set eyes.
  • Eye framing eyebrows.
  • Medium, well-groomed brows that don't meet in the middle.
  • A slim face.
  • Distinctive jawline.
  • Fuller lips.
Jun 20, 2020

Why are men attracted to beautiful faces? ›

The scientists go on to explain that for men, physical attraction, particularly a beautiful face "is a sign of fertility and the survival instinct draws them to women who can carry on their line." Women, however, take a bit longer to decide if a man will make a suitable partner.

What physical features make a woman beautiful? ›

Below are 6 physical traits men find most attractive in women, according to scientific research.
  1. Large eyes. Getty. ...
  2. White teeth and a big smile. Getty. ...
  3. The curvature of your spine. Getty. ...
  4. A waist-to-hip ratio of .67 to .80.
  5. Glowing skin. Getty.
  6. Thick, healthy hair. Getty.
Jul 5, 2020

Who is the most beautiful woman in the world ever? ›

The Top Ten Most Beautiful Women Of ALL Time
  • Kate Moss. ...
  • Jean Shrimpton. ...
  • Brigitte Bardot. ...
  • Beyonce. ...
  • Sophia Loren. ...
  • Grace Kelly. ...
  • Marilyn Monroe. ...
  • Audrey Hepburn. Accepting the gold crown however, and swooping into first place, it's classic Hollywood icon and word renown beauty Audrey Hepburn.

What is beauty bias? ›

Beauty bias, or “lookism,” is less well known, but has significant impacts on employees in a workplace. It involves the way in which people are perceived by others, as a result of their level of physical attractiveness.

Does everyone think they are attractive? ›

Psychology research shows that people, overall, tend to rate themselves as more physically attractive than strangers rate them. However, it seems that not everyone overestimates their attractiveness to an equal degree.

How do you know if a guy thinks your beautiful? ›

One of the most telling signs he finds you attractive is his tendency to shower you with compliments. Ever. He would always inquire into the details of your dress, make-up, shoes, and even hair. When a man takes so much interest in a woman's attire, it is a sign he finds you adorable.

How do u know a guy likes u? ›

How to Tell If a Guy Likes You
  • He is touching you. (istock) ...
  • He remembers small details about you. ...
  • You two are social media friends. ...
  • He gives you eye contact. ...
  • He makes an effort in the conversations you have. ...
  • He's using “alpha” body language. ...
  • He asks if you have a boyfriend. ...
  • He gets jealous when you talk to other guys.
Mar 10, 2021

Do mirrors make you look prettier? ›

This is because the reflection you see every day in the mirror is the one you perceive to be original and hence a better-looking version of yourself. So, when you look at a photo of yourself, your face seems to be the wrong way as it is reversed than how you are used to seeing it.

What are the 7 love languages? ›

The Complete Guide to the Different Love Languages and What They Mean
  • Physical Touch. From the moment a child is born, mothers are encouraged to place their newborns on their chest. ...
  • Receiving Gifts. ...
  • Acts of Service. ...
  • Quality Time. ...
  • Words of Affirmation.
Feb 13, 2019

What makes a man fall deeply in love with a woman? ›

These three elements provide a man a strong sense of attachment, sexual compatibility, and security, making them fall head over heels in love with you. The support and emotional connection they feel with you also pull them closer, among other things.

How do you make a man adore you? ›

Take a look below for the best tips on how to make a guy fall in love with you.
  1. Show him that you respect and admire him. ...
  2. Don't try to change him. ...
  3. Show him gratitude. ...
  4. Genuinely care for him. ...
  5. Be optimistic and allow yourself to love and be loved in return. ...
  6. Always have his back. ...
  7. Don't smother him.
Feb 19, 2021

What do guys notice in a girl first? ›

A beautiful smile is one of the things most men notice first in a woman. A smiling woman is considered to be much more attractive and approachable. She sends the signal of happiness and optimism. Thus, it's much easier to start a conversation with a smiling woman.

What boys want from their girls? ›

15 Things Every Guy Wants In A Relationship But Will Never Tell You
  • Mutual respect without ego problems. ...
  • Real intimacy, not just a fling. ...
  • Adventures in the bedroom. ...
  • Spontaneity and a little craziness. ...
  • Being close with enough space of their own. ...
  • As few insecurities as possible. ...
  • Freedom from being judged.

What do teenage guys like in a girl? ›

Dudes want space—so they want a girl who does, too.

He'll appreciate that you have a full, active life. Teen guys hate the idea of being "locked down." It's a huge turn-off to them. They're attracted to independent girls because they won't feel trapped.

What body part do guys notice first? ›

It's your face! Thirty-eight percent of gents confessed that this is the first thing they notice about you.

When a man looks at your chest? ›

Men: If a woman seems focused on your face and chest, she sees romantic potential. A gaze that wanders from your chest to your hips to your legs reveals that she's interested in you—but it could either friendship or something more intimate.

What attracts a man to a woman first? ›

The first thing anyone notices about another person is definitely their looks and their appearance. Even in matters of love, the basic thing that attracts a guy to a girl is their guise and the way they look. However, that is not the only factor that appeals to eyes of men.

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