It’s absolutely no piece of breaking news that being attractive provides you with quite a few advantages in life. Many studies have shown that attractiveness is, as we’ve always suspected, associated with a better quality of life, and it definitely makes encounters like interviews and court hearings easier to breeze through than for the rest of us uglier folks.
What isn’t as widely known, however, is how conventional attractiveness can be a detriment in many other areas of life, where being a bit less attractive would give one an edge over good-looking peers. In case it needs to be said, we absolutely believe that all of our readers are beautiful, though for those who are a bit more beautiful than the others, here are some ways that attractiveness may be working against you.
In a time of rising divorce rates and more and more people choosing to stay unmarried, the traditional institution of marriage has definitely taken a hit. Nevertheless, many people do go for the ultimate commitment, and unless they’re doing it to win some convoluted and ridiculously drawn-out bet, chances are that they want the marriage to stick. What they don’t realize is that commitment and willingness to make it work aren’t the only factors that decide the success of the relationship; there’s also how pretty they are.
Many studies have found that more attractive people have higher divorce rates than the rest, even if you’d expect it to be the complete opposite. In one study, researchers looked at the yearbook photos of men from two high schools in the US and rated them on attractiveness. They then matched them against their marriage and divorce records through ancestry.com and found that the most attractive ones of them had a much higher rate of divorce than the others. The researchers also tried this on celebrities and found the results to be the same.
We always assume that attractiveness has a part to play in the hiring process and that more conventionally attractive people must have an edge over other applicants, for obvious reasons. After all, that is one of the many benefits attractiveness is supposed to provide you with, like having hotter sexual partners and being able to skip the queue at nightclubs. While that may be the case for men, it’s not for women, at least where job hunting is concerned.
In a study done in Israel, researchers sent 2,656 pairs of resumes to job openings across the country, each including a copy with a picture of the applicant and one without. They found that the more attractive males were more likely to get a callback than the less attractive ones, but for women, it was the complete opposite. Less attractive women were more likely to be called than prettier ones, and the reason may just be good old evolutionary competitiveness. They found that the difference was particularly stark when the hiring professionals were largely female—which is usually the case in most corporate human resource departments. The researchers concluded that the HR women instinctively eliminated female applicants they perceived as competition.
Attractiveness is often an important factor in whether a relationship will work. It generally helps if you find your partner to be physically attractive, regardless of other factors like sexual compatibility, level of commitment, and squad chemistry in video games. It’s not the same for both genders, however, as studies have found that women tend to have more satisfying and fulfilling relationships with men who are less attractive than them.
A number of studies have shown heterosexual women with less pretty male partners tend to be happier and more satisfied. One study found that men who are less attractive tend to do other things to make up for that shortcoming, like taking the partners out on more dates or being better in bed, which translated to higher satisfaction for the women.
In another study, women were found to have more of a tendency to diet and try to look better if their husbands were more attractive than them. The surprising part is that this is not the case for men at all, which may tell us something about how looks disproportionately affect women in our society.
Being humans, we’ve found that cooperating with one another is one of the best ways to survive, another one being swiftly and mercilessly eliminating other factions fighting for the same resource. With the help of cooperation with each other, humans have gradually conquered the world, even if that cooperation is largely limited to our own immediate groups.
Apparently, though, cooperation doesn’t come as naturally to the more attractive among us. In a study done by researchers in Spain, they put people of varying attractiveness in a prisoner’s dilemma kind of an experiment, where it was necessary to cooperate with each other to pass. They found that people with more symmetrical faces—one of the most universally accepted traits associated with attractiveness—were much less likely to do so than the others. On top of that, the pretty folk were also less likely to expect others to cooperate.
It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves at some point in our lives, especially those of us who aren’t the most gifted in the looks department. Would we be happier if we were a bit more attractive? Sure, it would be pretty inconvenient to be hit on all the time, but having a better-looking partner, an easier time during interviews, and potentially earning millions with a successful modeling career can’t hurt, right?
While this question is too broad and complicated to answer with a single “yes” or “no,” the vague answer would be a hard “no.” A study done by British researchers on models—who are obviously more attractive than your average person—found that they’re much more likely to suffer from personality disorders and an overall lower sense of well-being than the others. It may sound surprising on the surface, though it makes sense if you think about the fact that models are generally known only for their looks and not any particular skill they spent effort on cultivating.
You may have heard the assertion that conventionally attractive people aren’t as interesting to talk to as uglier folks. Of course, stereotypes are rarely true. Unfortunately, science is not on the side of attractive people on this one, as according to research, the stereotype holds up.
According to a study, beautiful people don’t tend to put in the inner work for improvement as much and are more inclined toward conformity than self-improvement. The more attractive people are, the less likely they are to do something to stand out, and the more likely they are to simply go with the flow.
Being even moderately attractive in the scientific and academic fields is sort of a complicated situation to be in. It’s not a regular office environment, where being pretty might help you get a promotion and climb the ladder, even with additional skills to back it up. In the scientific field, the only way up is being good at the skill you’re hired for and nothing else; no one is going to give a hot geologist a pass for their bad research just because they score high on the looks department. In fact, according to a study, the reality is the exact opposite.
Researchers took photographs of certain scientists and showed them to a group of people, asking them for their opinion on the quality of the scientists’ research. Surprisingly, the people deemed the unattractive scientists to be better at their jobs based on their photographs alone. While it may have to do something with the fact that scientists are more publicly visible now than ever before, the study suggests that we may be using attractiveness as a parameter for quality of performance in fields where it shouldn’t matter at all.
Fertility is assumed to be intrinsically linked with attractiveness. Surely, being better-equipped to pass on your genes is the whole point of being attractive, or why would evolution even bother with it? According to research, however, women are much more likely to conceive if they go for a less attractive partner over a handsome one.
That is, of course, assuming that attractive men sleep around with more women than their uglier counterparts, which is a pretty widely accepted fact around the world. According to the study, the number of sperm released during sex decreases with every subsequent partner when a man is having sex frequently. So the more sex a man is having, the lower the chances are of him unloading (so to speak) enough of the stuff that actually matters when the time to make a baby comes around.
In the world of online dating, it seems obvious that more attractive people would have a higher chance of scoring a date than less attractive ones. After all, it’s all about looks on dating apps, and even if personality may win once you do get to meet, the first matches are usually made purely on how conventionally attractive your potential date is.
While the data is pretty straightforward for men, for women, it’s a bit more complicated. As OKCupid found in their research, men are more likely to go for women who aren’t unanimously attractive. In other words, guys not being able to agree on whether a woman is attractive or not increases her chance of getting a date over women everyone finds attractive. Surprising, right? You might even doubt OKCupid’s credibility to carry out such research. Nevertheless, that’s what the data showed.
When it comes to traditional standards of attractiveness for men, there are a few features that are considered to be universally masculine and good-looking. A pronounced jawline, a big smile, and a broad chest are some of them, and it stands to reason that women who end up with a partner with most of those features would be happier in committed relationships. Too bad for attractive men, then, that it’s really not the case, as research has indicated that men with more feminine features make for more ideal partners than their macho counterparts.
In a study done over a period of 15 years, a researcher from Glasgow University found that while women opt for more masculine men for casual flings and hookups, they tend to prefer men with moderately feminine traits for long-term relationships. There were certain conditions to the findings, like the self-perceived attractiveness of the female subjects, though overall, the findings suggest that men are better off toning down on the masculinity if they’re out to find a mate for life.
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