Pardon? We listen closer to hot people, study finds
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, December 21, 2010 11:10AM PST
As if movie bombshell Scarlett Johansson didn't have enough going for her, a new psychology study suggests that people are more likely to pay attention to someone with her good looks than the average Joe.
Results from the University of B.C. study, published in the December edition of Psychological Science, suggests we pay closer attention to attractive people – what researchers say is the latest in a long history of scientific evidence about the advantages of perceived beauty.
Similar studies have found that subjects believe attractive people are also more intelligent, friendly and competent than others.
The 75 study participants were grouped for three minute, one-on-one conversations. Participants rated their partners on physical attractiveness as well as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. They also rated their own attractiveness.
As well as an overall bias for people they found attractive, co-author Prof. Jeremy Biesanz said participants perceived beautiful people as having stronger personality traits than others.
"If people think Jane is beautiful, and she is very organized and somewhat generous, people will see her as more organized and generous than she actually is," says Biesanz.
"Despite this bias, our study shows that people will also correctly discern the relative ordering of Jane's personality traits – that she is more organized than generous – better than others they find less attractive."
But it isn't just their physical appearance that makes people pay attention more to people they judge to have that certain something.
People were also motivated to pay more attention to beautiful people because of curiousity, romantic interest or a desire for friendship or social status.
"Not only do we judge books by their covers, we read the ones with beautiful covers much closer than others," said Biesanz.
The study also appears to reaffirm that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Although most participants agreed on each person's attractiveness, people were best at identifying the personalities of those they found attractive -- regardless of whether others did.