Car and complex rating dating can

Berscheid, E., & Walster, E., Physical Attractiveness. In L. Berkowitz(ed., ) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 7, 1974. Exerpts

This paper explores how our physical appearance influences our relationshipswith others.

The authors feel that research into physical attractiveness has been lackingbecause sociilogists have disregarded is as an important variable or havebeen uneasy in exploring the deterministic consequences of beauty. However,the authors feel that attractiveness is an influential variable in understandingsocial phenomena.

Physical Attractiveness and Heterosexual Attraction

Matching Hypothesis
One hypothesis is that people will select for romantic liasons those whoare of their own social desirability level. A person's romantic aspirationsare influenced by their overall goal aspirations. However, it also dependson the probability of relations -- a person of lower social desirabilitymay expect a rejection if they approach someone much higher than they are.

One study in the 60's paired up people at a dance. They found that theonly determinant that predicted the degree of "liking" of theirdate and desire for subsequent dates was physical attractivness. Anotherstudy found a 0.89 correlation, another a 0.69 correlation. Perceptionof physical attractiveness was better correlated than "similar interests"or "character".

Another study by the author found support of the "matching principle". Physically attractive dates were preferred by everyone, though people ofless attractiveness tended to choose less attractive dates than highly attractiveindividuals.

Another study confirmed that people make dating choices partly based onthe probability of rejection. Men asked to choose between women chose themost physically attractive girl more often when assured they would not berejected. Men who rated themselves as highly attractive percieved theirchances greater than less attractive men.

The converse of the matching principle also seems true. Studies showedthat couples seem to have similar levels of physical attractiveness. Peopleof similar attractiveness levels showed more outward affection to each othertoo. However, in this study is't difficult to determine if a similar resultwould occur by chance, or if they was a "halo effect" from thepartner.

Still another study which eliminated interaction effects did see evidenceof this matching principle.

Sex Differences and Physical Attractiveness
It also seems that physical attractiveness is more important for men thanwomen. Women who were more physically attractive got more dates.

Why are Physically Attractive Preferred?
Interestingly, while physical attractiveness appears to be the biggest correlatorand predictor, it rarely appears as most important when directly asked ofsubjects. Attributes like personality and character usually rank higher. Either people are not aware of how important physical attractiveness isin their selection criteria, or they are not fully honest.

Why is attractiveness so important. Some theories are:

Social Learning
Cultural norms and the media often demonstrate that we are supposed to exhibitresponses of sexual attraction only to physically attractive people.

Rating and Dating Complex
There is a great deal of prestige factor to be gained in dating a physicallyattractive person. One study found that people had a better impressionof a man if he was shown to have a physically attractive girlfriend thanwithout one.

Physical Attractivness Stereotype
Folklore indicates that physical beauty is a sign of inner beauty. Studieshave confirmed that the two attributes are highly correlated (for both sexes). People also felt physically attractive people would become more successfuland happier. Interestingly, they only future performance where physicallyattractive people would not be expected to be better was as parents.

Other data suggest that the physically attractiveness stereotype is mostprevelant with high attractiveness levels.

Other Determinants of Interpersonal Attraction

1. Similarity
Studies have shown that both attitude similarity and physical attractivenessboth have correlational effects with attraction. Males in particular placemore value on physical attractiveness than attitude similarity, especiallywhen the physical attraction is high.

Another studied found situational influences. Similarity had a greatereffect on marrying than working, liking than dating. Physical attractivenesshad a greater effect on dating than marrying, and dating than liking. However,in real situations the attitudinal similarities are usually discovered overtime. Either way, their appears to be mutual influences between similarityand physical attractiveness.

2. Esteem
People like those who like them. One study found that people paired withattractive future dates felt that they liked time more than those with unattractivedates.

Impact of Physical Attractiveness on the Individual

1. Popularity
Studies have found even kindergarteners can distinguish between body typesand have aversion to certain types (chubbiness). Direct evidence that physicalattractiveness impacts on social acceptance has even been shown in nurseryschools. Other evidence shows a correlation between quality of early socialbehavior and adult social adjustment.

Studies show that the social value of attractivness for females increaseswith age as children begin to absorb cultural stereotypes. For young pre-schoolmales agressiveness was associated with unattractivness. Attractivenessand independence were also correlated. Thus, a persons early self-conceptmay be partly determined by their physical attractiveness.

2. Socialization
One study found that in attributing alleged bad behavior of a describedchild, adults were more likely to attribute the behavior as an unique eventfor attractive children, and evidence of a bad social trend for unattractivechildren. Thus children may receive different socialization based on theirattractiveness

One study where 400 teachers analyzed the same school records of a child(with different pictures of attractive/unattractive children) found thatteachers gave higher ratings of educational potential to attractive childrenand unattactive children. Another study by college men of writings by acollege woman found the same effect of attractiveness on rating.

Concluding Comments
One interesting hypothesis is that people who request psychotherapy maybe less attractive than those who do not. Maybe plastic surgery couldhelp unattractive people in these situations?