The Corpus Callosum

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is one of those trite sayings
that we’ve all heard “a million times.”  Certainly, is is
commonplace for persons to have differing opinions on matters such as
the attractiveness of others.  Sometimes, though, I’ve noted a
tendency for peer groups to work toward a consensus about what
constitutes attractiveness.

It turns out that there is a complex psychology behind this, and it has
to do with social context.

href="http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyID=2007-01-17T005428Z_01_L16822716_RTRUKOC_0_US-SCIENCE-ATTRACTION.xml&WTmodLoc=Home-C5-scienceNews-3">Beauty
in the eye of other beholders, says study

Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:54pm ET
By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) – Beauty may be in the eye of the
beholder but other people’s opinions matter too when it comes to the
attraction between men and women, according to researchers.

They found women are more attracted to a man if other women like him
too.

“We tend to think about things like attraction as reflecting a private
decision or a personal choice but our work shows that people’s
attractiveness judgements can be influenced in pronounced ways by what
other people appear to think of those individuals,” said psychologist
Dr
Jones, of the University of Aberdeen, and his team tested the impact of
the opinions of others by giving women a test in which they had to
choose the more attractive of pairs of male faces and to rate how much
more handsome they found them.

They were then shown a short video in which the same faces were
displayed. But each face was being looked at by a woman smiling or one
showing a bored or neutral expression.

After watching the video, the researchers repeated the initial test.

“We found that the slideshow caused women to become more attracted to
the men who were being smiled at by other women,” said Jones. 

Studies such as these always have limitations.  Even so, this
study might help give us some perspective on the concept of
attractiveness; hopefully, it will be a healthier perspective.

Comments

  1. #1 jayh
    January 17, 2007

    This should not be a surprise. As intensely social animals, our perceptions of value are at least somewhat influenced by our peers. I don’t doubt this has evolutionary roots, forming a more unified local society as well as a kind of mental shortcut– researching the desirability of a subject can include the perceptions of others who may have already done so.

    Of course this hardly substitutes for more critical analysis, but works as a kind of ‘first cut’. These tests were tests of first impression, not tests of final choices. Most people would go far deeper than this in choosing a potential mate.