Is “beautiful” or

“handsome” synonymous with “good”?

Is beauty only skin deep?

Is attractiveness a superficial feature?

The survival of a genetic line hinges on mate selection.

Like it or not, physical appearance plays a major role in life.

82% of males and

93% of females “are actively oriented toward maintaining an attractive appearance.”

Is beauty culturally universal?

6 month old infants turn their heads toward attractive faces and away from unattractive faces


Kalakanis, &



People in different cultures generally agree on which faces are attractive

(Cunningham et al. 1995;

Langlois et al.

2000; Perrett et al. 1994)

Looking up to leaders

Since 1900, the taller candidate has won

19 of 28 presidential elections

Obama 6’2”, McCain


Only 3 of 43

American presidents

-- James Madison,

Benjamin Harrison and Martin Van Buren

-- have been under 5 feet 7 inches

Size matters

For Men

Half of all CEOs are 6’ or more.

A 2004 study found that every inch of height adds $789 in salary per year.

The study controlled for gender, weight and age.

Someone who is 6’ tall earns $5,525 more annually than someone who is 5’6”.

For Women

Taller women earned more as a result of their height, though they gained only twothirds that of the men.

In a British study, both sexes judged taller women to be more intelligent, assertive, independent and ambitious.

The “Beauty is good” stereotype

Dion, Berschied, & Walster

(1972) developed the “beauty is good” stereotype.

Children’s fairly tales equate beauty with goodness

Popular TV reality shows emphasize vanity

Celebutards: Jessica Simpson,

Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan

Tabloids and women’s magazines focus on looks

A double standard for attractiveness?

Older male news anchors

Daine Sawyer = 64

Wolf Blitzer = 62

Bill O’Reilly = 61

Katie Couric = 53

Older male actors

Sean Connery,

Harrison Ford, Bruce


Heavy set actors vs. actresses

Men become

“distinguished” with age

Biology and attractiveness

Evolutionary selection:

facial attractiveness affects mate selection and the likelihood of reproductive success.

Facial symmetry

Facial symmetry and proportionality is preferred

Bilateral symmetry: left and right sides of the face are mirror images

Proportionality: equally sized features

Asymmetrical faces


faces with average features are preferred faces that are closer to average are consistently rated as more attractive

Sexual dimorphism

For female faces, greater feminization is preferred

For male faces, results are mixed

More recent studies show a slight preference for feminized male faces

Women’s preferences shift toward masculine faces during ovulation

“Men, gay or straight, prefer high sexual dimorphism in the faces of the sex that they are attracted to.

Sexual dimorphism

Examples of masculinized

(right) and feminized (left) versions of a male face.