Many studies have shown, and common sense dictates, that good looks greatly benefit those who have them. Prettier people tend to have more social relationships, and reap the psychological benefits as a result. What may not be so widely known, however, is that the relevance of physical appearance varies based on geography.
According to a study published in Personal Relationships, The importance of attractiveness depends on the social environment where we live. Attractiveness does matter in more socially mobile, urban areas (and from a woman's point of view actually indicates psychological well-being), but it is far less relevant in rural areas.
In urban areas individuals experience a high level of social choice, and associating with attractive people is one of those choices. In other words, in urban areas, a free market of relationships makes attractiveness more important for securing social connections and consequently for feeling good. In rural areas, relationships are less about choice and more about who is already living in the community. Therefore, attractiveness is less likely to be associated with making friends and feeling good.
Furthermore, urban women need not have below average looks in order to experience a diminished sense of well-being and social life. The research team studied women at mid-life in the U.S. based on data related to their well-being, social connectedness, and their body attractiveness (assessed with a calculation of their waist-to-hip ratio).
Lead author Victoria C. Plaut points out, "In the field of psychology, research results are generally seen as having a natural and universal applicability. This research suggests that this is far from being the case. Rather, the importance of attractiveness varies with certain sociocultural environments, and, if you think about it, urban environments are actually a relatively recent addition to human life."
Citation: Victoria C. Plaut, Glenn Adams, Stephanie L. Anderson, 'Does attractiveness buy happiness? "It depends on where you're from', Personal Relationships, December 2009, 16(4), 619 - 630; doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2009.01242.x
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- What Does Your Gut Microbiome Have To Do With Your Immune System?
- Creepy IBM AI toy coming for Christmas—the Continuum paradox. Eerie IBM video link below.
- Cruithne: Earth's Other 'Moon' Could Reveal Mysteries Of The Solar System
- Men With Short Index Fingers And Long Ring Fingers Are Nicer To Women
- Big Data Tackles How Urban Movement Is Linked To Social Activity
- CRISPR: Bacterial Viral Defense Targets Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
- What Antidepressants Do To Healthy People
- "I was particularly taken with the Venera missions, sending probes into such a hostile environment..."
- "Maybe the Russian Revolution isn't such a good example. The Bolsheviks had something even more..."
- "As to self-incrimination, people cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment now to withhold certain purely..."
- "Face it, news in America took a death blow with the 2002-2003 war media love fest, The layman can't..."
- "Some interesting research out of Sweden noted that the composition of the microbiome greatly affects..."