November 29, 2007

The Beautiful People

author_brad By Bradley Wright 

Like many people, you want to get ahead in life… have a successful career, be well-liked, you know, all that good stuff. So, you go to school, work hard, treat others well, and hope for the best. 

Well, you’re forgetting something, and that is to look good. Why? It turns out that we attribute all sorts of positive qualities to good looking people, and these qualities have a way of becoming true. 

Here’s how it works. Social psychologists have identified something called the “what is beautiful is good stereotype.” If someone is good looking—clear skin, symmetrical face, sparkly eyes or whatever else we see as beautiful or sexy or cute—we think that they are also lots of other good things. Just because they are hot, we think that they are more intelligent, sensitive, interesting, competent, and kind. 

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Our positive expectations for attractive people can serve as a self-fulfilling prophesy. If we think someone is smart and has a great personality, we start to treat them differently. We expect them to live up to our expectations, and, lo and behold, they do. As such, if we think that beautiful people are better people overall, they become so. 

Usually we think about stereotypes being negative, and the problems that they cause. For example, if teachers think that girls are inherently worse at math than boys, they might put less effort into teaching them, call on them less in the class, and in general have lower expectations. The result, girls end up doing worse in math because the teachers think they will. 

The “what is beautiful is good” stereotype is positive, and it can be just as powerful. In a classic study, researchers had men talk with a woman via intercom for 10 minutes, and after the conversation the men were asked to rate the woman’s personality. Half the men were shown a picture of an attractive woman and told that was the woman they were talking to. The other half were shown a picture of an unattractive woman. In reality, as you probably guessed, it was the same woman talking to each of the men. 

The men who thought they were talking to an attractive woman rated her as more friendly, sociable, and likable than those talking to an “unattractive” woman. They perceived her as having a much better personality just because she was beautiful. Why? Self-fulfilling prophesy. The men talking to the “attractive” woman treated had higher expectations for her, and she lived up to them. 

The effect of this stereotype varies. As might be expected, it works most strongly with first impressions. We evaluate somebody’s appearance when we first meet them, and that information becomes most important. The more we get to know them, however, the more we factor in their other characteristics as well. Also, some people put more weight on physical appearances than others, and so they would be more affected by this stereotype. 

clip_image004[1]This stereotype has various social implications. We’re all aware of the remarkable amounts of time and energy that people put into their appearance. Here in the U.S. alone, women spend billions of dollars on cosmetics. This seems like frivolity, but if in fact attractive people receive preferential treatment, it might not be as misguided as it first seems. 

It also suggests another source of social stratification. Sociologists are quite attuned to how race, gender, sexuality, age, and other demographic characteristics affect our social standing. Perhaps we should incorporate other characteristics, such as attractiveness. Who knows, maybe an attractive person of minority status might have better odds in society than an unattractive person of majority status. 

This stereotype also gives an idea as to why the media so often uses attractive people. Open up any magazine, and there are beautiful people selling everything from vacuum cleaners to computers to watches. We see their attractiveness, and we associate other good qualities with them, and so maybe we should listen to them about what to buy. 

clip_image006[1]An instance of this stereotype is found with newscasters. In general, television news anchors tend to be attractive people. Here are pictures of two of them. Stone Phillips is a reporter and anchor for CBS news. Melissa Theuriau is a reporter on French television. Both of them are remarkably attractive people. Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve walked through the journalism department here at UConn, but I’m pretty sure that the average journalism student isn’t this good looking. News organizations pick anchors, in part, on their physical attractiveness, and given all the positive attributes associated with attractiveness, this isn’t a bad idea. 

clip_image008[1] The beauty stereotype raises some interesting moral questions. 

One could justifiably argue that it is wrong to give extra social capital to people because of their good looks. Somehow it seems unfair, almost discriminatory, to those of us who will never earn the name “Stone”. Still, the same argument applies to intelligence, education, organizational skills, and any other factors that society rewards. Some have more, some have less. Now, don’t get me wrong. If society rewarded only beauty, I’d be in deep, deep trouble. But, if society is inherently random in the rewards it gives—some people get them and some people don’t—how much does it matter which criteria are used?

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Comments

One of the best applications of this theory I've ever heard is the use of it to prove Fox News's conservative bias. It requires only a quick look at the pair of commentators Sean Hannity and Alan Combs to notice that the conservative view is much more attractive (and therefore trustworthy, smart, compassionated, nice, good. . .)

I just thought this was interesting, it applies the same theory, but in reverse. Can we use people's appearance to make accurate negative assumptions about them? http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=spot_the_pedo Obviously this is for entertainment purposes only, but it's still worth a look.

The 'what is beautiful is good' stereotype is applied in reverse to the representation of criminals in art forms. In films, television, literature and stereotypes; criminals, such as serial rapists/murderers are presented (in a trend-like fashion) as attractive people to lure their victims into a false sense of security. Also, aggressive, violent people to be feared are presented as big, buff and ugly.

And as for these stereotypes and how everyone reacts to them, that depends on many individual preferences, as our author, Mr. Wright has emphasized.

Well let me just say I don't know if i want unprofessional looking people delivering my news. Beauty always has an upper hand when it comes to media they have to look good it is their job. Yet we all know one or two people who are all looks and no smarts.The Media does send a message of beautiy and not the beast yet,there are not many unintellgent people in the media. My space maybe.

The media does use a lot of beauty to get their message out. wheither or not their news is accurate people will usually watch because of the images they use, with the people they have delivering it to you.

I believe that society attitudes towards one another mostly centers aound personal appearances. For example if I walk into a store with old sweats on I will certainly be treated differently. The assumption would automatically be she's broke. I can even go as far to say that they might be more watchful of me, thinking that I might steal from them. It would be a total reversal if I came in with nice clothes. This can also be accredited to what you look like, race, being overweight etc. It leads to stereotyping.

The "What is Good" stereotype is all around us in today's world. People buy things because of somebodies looks. People want to have good looking friends and even spouses. The bad thing about this is people do not look into someone's heart but outside beauty.

to tell you the truth i dont know what to say about this one im stumped.. do i think it true yea i guess that i do but i dont think thats all to it....I think this apply more to peopel with talent.
“I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”
Marilyn Monroe quotes

I understand that more attractive people are used on tv and in magazines. An actor or actresses may look good, but if they are not a good actor or actresses people pick up on it pretty fast. I personally may not be very attracted to someone at first, but when I get to know them they start becoming beautiful to me. The opposite happens too. I find someone cute and I judge that they are good or nice and then they let me down. I also realize that the reason why I watch most tv shows or movies is because I find one of the men in them attractive.

What is beautiful is good means if someone looks good we thing they are good all around smart nice etc. The self fullfilling prophecy ties in because it says that when you hold people to a standard because of their looks they seem to live up to it. This stereotype implies good looking people have it easier in life, I do not agree but that is the implication.

The "what is beautiful is good sterotype" simply means that we tend to see beautiful people as having all other good qualities. We supposedly automatically see good in people because of their attractiveness, whether those good qualities actually exist or not. The self-fulfilling propechy contributes because when we automatically assume these good qualities, they usually turn out to be true , mostly because we make them that way. The "what is beautiful is good" seems to imply that all people are shallow and revolve around looks.

i so my best to stay way from all stereo types by some times you cant help it. I'm one of the people that gets put in categories all the time and i hate it.

the "what is beautiful is good" stereotype is the way it is in todays society. I dont't agree but that is just how it is. Just becasue you are attractive doesn't mean you are gonna be intelligent, but that is how we perceive it and that isn't gonna change.

Not everyone is beautiful in one person's eyes. It takes many people for everyone to beautiful. But not everyone is intelligent in the same sense. What is beautiful is good is true in everyones eyes. Some think that a skinny, blonde haired girl is beautiful. Others think that a little heavier sized brunette is beautiful. But some think that both of them are beautiful. Which is wrong? Beautiful and intelligent have a different definition for everyone. So who is to say that one girl is or is not beautiful.

This is true in so many ways! Stereotyping will always be present in society. All you have to go by when you meet a person for the first time is your first impression of who they are, how they carry themselves, and what type of overall person they are. Often times this results in racial, sexist, and sexual orientation stereotyping. There is nothing we can do about it. Your appearance means everything. In today's society the only advice I can give you is look your best at all times people.

The what is beautiful is good sterotype is true most of the time but certainly not always. for example, a beautiful pie. You see it and its beautiful, its probably gonna be good. But if you see a crumbly pie that looks bad, its probably gonna be bad. But its not always the case. A lot of the time, if something or somebody is good looking, they have a target on their back because people compare them or other things. People can't look at the outside of people to make opinions on them, whether good looking or not.

All stereotype are associated with bad or negative things. Beauty is a "good thing" so to speak but in the article is described as a good stereotupe. For example, all beautiful people smell nice. People looking at themselves and others tend to associate certain attributes with beauty. Even within myself this is true, I tend to feel better when I'm dressed nice or have new clothes or shoes. Society has become accustomed almost accepting that beauty and brains are in cohesion.

The "what is beautiful is good sterotype" can be explained by if a person is good looking, then they fit a good sterotype. This sterotype includes intellegence, talents, good attributes, and many other good qualities. The self fulfilling prophecy is when a person of people "think" that the person is all of these things, then they actually do become these things. The social implications of this is that society bases what they think about people and who they are on their looks, whether it's good or bad.

The stereotype what is beautiful is good is so true because you never see an ugly person on the cover of a book or magazine, so who really knows who is beautiful and who isn't because everyone has their own visual perception.

I disagree with the "beautiful is good" stereotype. Some of the nastiest people I've ever met were gorgeous with great looking figures. That being said, some of the worst attitudes I've ever dealt with were from the ugliest looking people I've ever met. I am not that great looking. I don't have a nice figure, or a great looking face. I do, however, have a really nice attitude and great appreciation of others to go with it. I've seen so many commercials where the women were "ugly" and became "beautiful" by going on this diet, or using this supplement. When I see these commercials, I think to myself "There is no way that is true, those women are lying." I don't think that just because somebody is beautiful it means that the product is going to be great as well. The social implications of this stereotype are monumental. If I didn't know my best friend, I would have thought she was the meanest person I've ever met because of her sarcasm and wit. Instead, I saw her for what she really was, and that was a sweet, kind, and caring friend who is always there whenever you need her.

"What is beautiful is good stereotype" means that if its pretty it has to work or be worth it. That way people use good looking people to sell stuff. This is also gives people more respect and make people live to higher standards. So you buy the goodys and what in and you live up too it. You won't be anything less then what people what you to be because you are beautiful and they look up to you.

This sterotype works because people believe an attractive person over an unattractive person. Because of this, a prophecy is used by being able to do your hair, makeup, get clothes etc. to qualify for this type.

beauty is one of the most valued qualities in our society, sad but true

We no longer see beauty from the inside out, but unfortunatley from the outside in. Cause as long as a self centered person gets what they want everything is fine. I dont know.

Very true that stereotypes directed towards beautiful people exist among Americans. It's not fair in the sense that an unattractive person can't get the same treatment or benefits as a decent looking person but then again some good looking people don't get great treatment either because I honestly think that people who have been a success in this country that are "facially challenged" might be bias to someone better looking because they build their own stereotypes just as the ones that are built for beautiful people. Even though they both do not even out, the fact that they both exist in the same field is horrible.

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