The Bad New About Looking Too Good

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by Carol Austin Bridgewater
Mademoiselle, May 1981

If you could snap your fingers and be absolutely gorgeous…would you? Before you decide, consider this: While there are definite advantages to being beautiful, there are also some very real drawbacks. In fact, the more average looking among us may be just as well off in the long run.

First, the advantages of beauty. Way back in 1966, Dr. Elaine Hatfield, a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin, and her colleague Dr. Ellen Berscheid, studied dating preferences of college freshman who attended a dance with blind dates of varying degrees of attractiveness. After the dance, the researchers found, the attractive women tended to be asked out again, and the good-looking dates of both sexes were reported to be better-liked than the average or unattractive dates. Intelligence and social skills didn’t seem to count for much.

Other researchers have demonstrated that both men and women assume that attractive people are more sensitive, kind, and sexually responsive than unattractive people. And they were thought to lead more exciting lives and have more prestigious careers. “This is a stereotype that’s held by virtually everyone-men and women, young and old,” says Dr. Mark Snyder (1978, p. 21), a psychologist at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, In Palo Alto, California.

But before you give up all hope because you’ve never been mistaken for Miss America, there’s a twist to Dr. Snyder's story. He did an experiment in which men talked over the phone to women they had never met. Men who were told that they were talking to attractive women were much more warm and outgoing in their conversations than men who thought they were talking to uglies. What’s fascinating is that, in spite of the fact that all the women were equally attractive, the “beauties” responded by being more confident and animated than the “uglies.”...
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