Positive personality traits — like helpfulness and honesty — make people appear physically more attractive, research finds.
Those displaying negative personality traits — like rudeness and unfairness — look physically less attractive to observers.
The finding is particularly strong for when women are evaluating men, since women place a little more emphasis on personality.
The finding helps justify those who say that ‘inner beauty’ is important.
Dr Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr., who led the research, said:
“Perceiving a person as having a desirable personality makes the person more suitable in general as a close relationship partner of any kind.”
For the study, participants viewed pictures of strangers and rated them for attractiveness.
Then they got some information about their personalities, and rated them again.
This mimics the way we evaluate people in real life.
First we just see them without known anything about their personality.
Then we adjust our view of them as we learn about their personality.
Those displaying positive personalities were deemed more attractive, the results showed.
It didn’t matter whether someone was in a relationship or not, or whether they were considering the person for a romantic relationship or not.
Dr Lewandowski said:
“This research provides a more positive alternative by reminding people that personality goes a long way toward determining your attractiveness; it can even change people’s impressions of how good looking you are.”
This study clearly shows that we can adjust our perception of someone’s physical attractiveness as we get more information about their personality.
The authors said that…
“…it demonstrates the substantial power of personality information, in that it is sufficient to overcome initial evaluations.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Personal Relationships (Lewandowski et al., 2007).