Do attractive people have appealing traits?
It's difficult to resist the temptation of assuming that a person's looks reflects something about his or her inner personality.
Indeed, research shows that people tend to perceive attractive adults as more social, successful and well-adjusted than less attractive adults, something described as the "what is beautiful is good" stereotype.
Lihi Segal-Caspi and Sonia Roccas of the Open University of Israel and Lilach Sagiv of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem investigated whether the "what is beautiful is good" stereotype holds up in the real world, the journal Psychological Science reports.
They examined how traits, which describe what people are like, and values, which describe what people consider important, might be related to physical attractiveness, according to an Open and Hebrew statement.
Segal-Caspi and colleagues hypothesized that outside observers would judge attractive women to be more agreeable, extraverted, conscientious, open to experiences, and emotionally stable than less attractive women.
The researchers recruited 118 university students to serve as "targets" or "judges." The targets completed surveys about their values and their traits. They were then videotaped entering a room, walking around a table looking at the camera, reading a weather forecast, and leaving the room.
Women who were rated as attractive were perceived as having more socially desirable personality traits, such as extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness, just as the researchers hypothesized.
Out of the 10 types of values, however, only one was thought to be associated with attractiveness: Attractive women were perceived as more likely to value achievement than less attractive women.