March 16th, 2011


Lose weight -- much more than your health depends on looking good.

Also, choose your parents well.

“A person's physical attractiveness -- the look that they're basically born with -- impacts every individual literally from birth to death,” says Dr. Gordon Patzer, dean of the College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University. He's spent 30 years studying and writing about physical attractiveness. “People are valued more who are higher in physical attractiveness. As distasteful at that might be, that's the reality.”

When model Allison drops her file, there seems to be a sudden change in the weather. Is it raining men? A man even uses his cane to stop the pages from flying away.

“It was just amazing how people would flock to me to clean it up,” says Allison. “I have dropped my purse and wallet and people always help me pick it up. But I never really thought about if somebody else dropped their wallet, maybe they wouldn't help them. It just seems strange to me.”

NBC staffer Loren is about to be that someone else. She drops the papers and people step by, rather than stop. About a dozen people pass by before, finally, a woman offers help.

But that's nothing compared to our other NBC colleague, Anthony. When he drops the folder, the sidewalk literally clears. Even as he spreads out the papers he's supposedly collecting, people just walk on by.

“I thought, hey I’m dressed in a shirt and a tie,” says Anthony. “I looked pretty professional, so maybe someone may stop and help me out. And people just kept stepping over.”
“For example, in a nursery, before newborn babies are released from a hospital, those babies who are higher in physical attractiveness, at this level defined as more cute , are touched more, held more and spoken to more,” says Dr. Patzer, who notes the trend continues in school. “You see that those teachers when they interact with children of higher physical attractiveness, they ask more questions, they prompt them for more answers. We expect those children to do better and consequently they fulfill our expectations and they actually do do better.”

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Good grooming more important than job qualifications

As a geek, I tend to undervalue appearance.  Function over form, and all that.  Robert Cialdini, in Influence: Science and Practice, suggests that geeks should pay a lot more attention to aesthetics: 

Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence (for a review of this evidence, see Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991).  Furthermore, we make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.  Some consequences of this unconscious assumption that "good-looking equals good" scare me.  For example, a study of the 1974 Canadian federal elections found that attractive candidates received more than two and a half times as many votes as unattractive candidates (Efran & Patterson, 1976).  Despite such evidence of favoritism toward handsome politicians, follow-up research demonstrated that voters did not realize their bias.  In fact, 73 percent of Canadian voters surveyed denied in the strongest possible terms that their votes had been influenced by physical appearance; only 14 percent even allowed for the possibility of such influence (Efran & Patterson, 1976).  Voters can deny the impact of attractiveness on electability all they want, but evidence has continued to confirm its troubling presence (Budesheim & DePaola, 1994).

A similar effect has been found in hiring situations.  In one study, good grooming of applicants in a simulated employment interview accounted for more favorable hiring decisions than did job qualifications - this, even though the interviewers claimed that appearance played a small role in their choices (Mack & Rainey, 1990).  The advantage given to attractive workers extends past hiring day to payday.  Economists examining U.S. and Canadian samples have found that attractive individuals get paid an average of 12-14 percent more than their unattractive coworkers (Hammermesh & Biddle, 1994).

Equally unsettling research indicates that our judicial process is similarly susceptible to the influences of body dimensions and bone structure.  It now appears that good-looking people are likely to receive highly favorable treatment in the legal system (see Castellow, Wuensch, & Moore, 1991; and Downs & Lyons, 1990, for reviews).  For example, in a Pennsylvania study (Stewart, 1980), researchers rated the physical attractiveness of 74 separate male defendants at the start of their criminal trials.  When, much later, the researchers checked court records for the results of these cases, they found that the handsome men had received significantly lighter sentences.  In fact, attractive defendants were twice as likely to avoid jail as unattractive defendants.  In another study - this one on the damages awarded in a staged negligence trial - a defendant who was better looking than his victim was assessed an average amount of $5,623; but when the victim was the more attractive of the two, the average compensation was $10,051.  What's more, both male and female jurors exhibited the attractiveness-based favoritism (Kulka & Kessler, 1978).

Other experiments have demonstrated that attractive people are more likely to obtain help when in need (Benson, Karabenic, & Lerner, 1976) and are more persuasive in changing the opinions of an audience (Chaiken, 1979).

Via LessWrong.

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Aspire to be beautiful

And then there are the guys who have seen or visited the women of places like Russia and/or Brazil. Guys always talk about how beautiful the women are and how almost all of them are perfect 10s. How does this tie together? Think about it for a moment. Most men say that all of the women in Russia and Brazil are beautiful, yet these are the very same men that say or believe that they will never be physically attractive to women because they are too short, the wrong race, their face isn't up to par, or they're too skinny.

I have a question for said men. Why are almost all of the women in Brazil and Russia beautiful? Is it because they somehow imported a perfect gene pool? Anyone with half a brain knows that this isn't the case. Then why are most of the women of Brazil and Russia beautiful? It's because they aspire to be beautiful. That and they put a lot of pressure on themselves to be beautiful (I remember seeing a woman from a poor neighborhood in Brazil somehow finding a way to get some kind of discount plastic surgery).

The vast majority of those women weren't given perfect genes, and if you pay attention, you will see that these women vary. Some have better-looking faces than others, some are short while others are tall, some are skinny while others are curvier, and some are blondes while others are brunettes. All of that diversity, yet men wholeheartedly agree that the women of Brazil and Russia are among the most beautiful in the world.

How does this relate to you? I believe that when a guy complains about being too short, being the wrong race, or not having the perfect face, he is just looking for an out. He is looking for a way out of hitting the gym, he is looking for a way out of buying costly nice clothes, he is looking for a way out of paying for expensive skin products, he is looking for a way out of paying for costly dietary supplements, and he is looking for a way out of getting his weight down. Overall, he is just being cheap and lazy, and looking for any excuse not to improve his appearances.

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