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?
- Pseudoscience Creeping Into Your Conference? A Case In GMOs And Glyphosate
- My Thoughts On The LIGO-VIRGO Result
- Henri Poincaré Predicted The Existence Of Gravitational Waves As Early As June 5, 1905
- Are Dark Matter Scientists About To Prove Its Existence?
- Gravitational Waves? Watch the LIGO press conference at 10:30 Eastern.
- 36 Million Americans Cook In The Nude
- Beyond Diamonds And Gems: The World's Rarest Minerals
- "Marie François Sadi Carnot (1837-1894, President of France from 1887 until his murder in 1894)..."
- "@Cesar -- The short answer is no, as there is a lot of physics one can squeeze out of a single..."
- "@Xi -- Yes, if your search over say 6 months of data showed a population of events that were all..."
- "Hi Dan, I referrred to what described in https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/ligos-ifo . From that..."
- "It's to be remembered that the Irish had small kingdoms in Wales and Cornwall as well as Scotland..."
- Fluorine: The Element From Hell
- Beard Microbiology: Grubby Hipsters May Be On To Something
- Water Tops the List of Health Concerns for Competitive Eaters
- Natural Flavors Are More Radioactive Than Artificial Ones.
- Bariatric Surgery Beneficial Even for Older People
- Opiates No Better at Easing Knee Osteoarthritis Pain
- New appreciation for human microbiome leads to greater understanding of human health
- Exeter's world-leading climate change research showcased in prestigious science event
- Speech disorder called apraxia can progress to neurodegenerative disease
- Market integration could help offset climate-related food insecurity
- What values are important to scientists?