The effect of nonphysical traits on the perception of physical attractiveness: Three naturalistic studies

September 27th, 2011

The Researchers: K. M. Kniffin & D. S. Wilson

Published In: Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol 25, p88-101, January 2004


Friends hotter than strangers.


Ever had a so-so stranger turn into a hottie—once you spent time together? Turns out, we’re more attracted to people we know, according to this study’s series of experiments.

In the first experiment, subjects rated the attractiveness of high school yearbook pics—either strangers or past classmates. The more familiar, respected and liked the people were, the more physically attractive the subjects rated the photos.

The next two experiments looked at whether the most valuable members of a task-oriented group seem hotter to the others in the group. The first group was a university rowing team, where talent, effort, liking and respect were all highly correlated with physical attractiveness. The second group was archeology students working on a 6-week dig. Again, familiarity, intelligence, liking and respect all influenced attractiveness.

Bottom line: Good bone structure can only take us so far and after that, our personalities do the heavy lifting. 

Beauty connection

We always say inner beauty matters, but this study shows that’s not just a cheesy turn of phrase. To really look stunning, you’ll need more than makeup. Develop your talents, flex your (mind) muscles and show off your witty comments or kind gestures. Just be you. You’ll be the hottest chick in town.

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