Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Are Attractive People Smarter?

I found this journal article interesting. Abstract:
Empirical studies demonstrate that individuals perceive physically attractive others to be more intelligent than physically unattractive others. While most researchers dismiss this perception as a ‘‘bias’’ or ‘‘stereotype,’’ we contend that individuals have this perception because beautiful people indeed are more intelligent. The conclusion that beautiful people are more intelligent follows from four assumptions. (1) Men who are more intelligent are more likely to attain higher status than men who are less intelligent. (2) Higher-status men are more likely to mate with more beautiful women than lower-status men. (3) Intelligence is heritable. (4) Beauty is heritable. If all four assumptions are empirically true, then the conclusion that beautiful people are more intelligent is logically true, making it a proven theorem. We present empirical evidence for each of the four assumptions. While we concentrate on the relationship between beauty and intelligence in this paper, our evolutionary psychological explanation can account for a correlation between physical attractiveness and any other heritable trait that helps men attain higher status (such as aggression and social skills).
I had this idea a few years ago but dismissed it as silly. It actually seems quite plausible to me now though. The evidence is fairly compelling (although their claim of a deductive argument seems a bit strong for me). The article has all sorts of interesting asides aswell - well worth the 17 pages of reading.
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