Does Beauty Bring You Farther

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Does Beauty Bring You Farther?: The Connection between Physical

Attractiveness and Success

Theories have long supported the notion that what is beautiful is

good (Dion, Berscheid, & Walster, 1972). In the study entitled “What is

Beautiful is Good,” Dion et al. (1972) investigates the physical

attractiveness stereotype in a broad study that looks at how

attractiveness affects one’s perceived personality traits. The study also

looks at
whether physical attractiveness leads to a better life. Studies

continue to focus on the question of how physical attractiveness affects

one’s success in life. Through factors of attractiveness including gender,

body size and age, it is apparent that physical attractiveness affects

success in three areas of life- popularity, perceptions of performance and

social interaction.

When looking at studies about physical attractiveness, researchers

often focus on gender, body size and age as three common factors. We

will first discuss these three
different factors to understand what

researchers look at when considering physical attractiveness. Later, we

will explore the effects that physical attractiveness has on success,

specifically in three categories of life that were commonly found within

our eight studies.

Factors of Attractiveness

Physical appearance according to Dion et al. (1972) “is the personal

characteristic most obvious and accessible to others in social

interaction” (p. 285). Gender, body size, and age are important to focus

on when studying the most obvious and accessible characteristic that

people see – one’s physical attractiveness.

Beauty and Success 3

Gender

Gender is one area often focused on when studying physical

attractiveness. In the studies we viewed, the outcomes of males and

females often differed because of gender. For example, in Schumaker,

Krejci, Small and Sargent’s (1985) study of loneliness in obese individuals,

researchers found that the connection between body size and loneliness is

more apparent in women than in men. Contrary to the previously

mentioned study, Reis, Wheeler, Spiegel, Kernis, Nezlek and Perri (1982)

found that male’s beauty is of greater consequence than female’s, at least

as the amount of socialization is concerned. This reveals that the effects

of physical attractiveness differ between the genders.

Body Size

Body size plays a major role in physical attractiveness. A study

concerning obese individuals focuses fully on the effect body size has on

feelings of loneliness (Schumaker et al., 1985). In another study about

physical attractiveness and sexual experience, Wiederman and Hurst (1985)

used body size as a main determinant of one’s physical attractiveness. They

found that body size affected overall sexual experiences including dating

and intercourse. From these studies, we conclude that body size is a major

part of physical attractiveness and may affect one’s overall success.

Age

In studies summarized in Perlini, Bertolissi and Lind (1999) it is

apparent that the “What is Beautiful is Good” stereotype plays a large

role throughout an individual’s life. Some studies have suggested that

older people are judged to have unfavorable characteristics like frailty,

Beauty and Success 4

slowness, and dependency. Since age naturally affects physical appearance,

Perlini et al. (1999) suggests that perhaps, “What is aged is less good”

(p. 343). Participants in this study viewed pictures of both attractive

and
unattractive older and younger individuals. From these photographs,

they judged the social desirability of each person. The study found that

it was less socially desirable to be younger and unattractive than to be

older and unattractive. This shows that physical attractiveness plays a...
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