According to the stereotype popular in our culture, it is assumed that attractive people are more socially desirable as personalities, as well as it is expected that their personal, social and professional lives are better than that of unattractive people. Experiments show that faces of people who were considered as attractive and sexy obtained higher scores on other parameters: these people were also considered more confident in themselves, as well as successful, sociable, friendly and intelligent. At the same time, the factor of attractiveness in the contemporary informational society produces much deeper psychological effects. In particular, many authors come up to the opinion that we are so used to the idealized pictures shown on television and in advertising, that start forgetting that there is a difference between the reality of beauty and computer graphics, which has serious impacts on further gender relations. Further in this paper, we will focus on the approaches to attractiveness discussed in Articles 19-21 of Chapter 7 (Interpersonal Attraction) in Lesko (2012).
Article 19: Levine, M., & Marano, H.E. (2012). Why I hate beauty. In W.A. Lesko, Readings in social psychology: General, classical, and contemporary selections, Chapter 7. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
In their article, Levine & Marano (2012) refer to the contrast effect studied by Kenrick &Gutierres and Kanazawa, showing that constant viewing of extraordinarily beautiful and desirable women in the media makes it difficult for men to further appreciate the beauty of ordinary women met in real life, as well as prevents women as such from evaluating themselves as attractive enough. Furthermore, the authors emphasize that the contrast effect has an impact not only on the assessment of strangers’ attractiveness and one’s own attractiveness, but also on the way people later assess their mates. For instance, after viewing Playboy, men not only find their wives less desirable, but also rate themselves as being less in love with their partner. At the same time, similarly to Dion et al. (2012), Levine & Marano (2012) pay attention that giving honors to physical beauty is more than the “matter of aesthetics”ť: beauty, including face attractiveness, desirable body and general symmetry, is rather perceived as a signal of health, reproductive capacity and a number of positive character features.
Article 20: Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (2012). What is beautiful is good. In W.A. Lesko, Readings in social psychology: General, classical, and contemporary selections, Chapter 7. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Dion et al. (2012) study conducted over 30 male and 30 female undergraduates examines whether physical attractiveness has an influence on the beliefs about attractive people personality trait and expected success in different spheres of life, including occupational prestige and personal happiness. The findings demonstrate that stereotyping based on physical – specifically facial – attractiveness does factually occur. According to Dion et al. (2012), individuals perceived as physically attractive were also rated as being more socially desirable and were expected to have greater accomplishments in the their professional and personal life. In this perspective, the research by Dion et al. (2012) correlates with the Experiment 2 results of Mishra et al. (2012) research and Levine & Marano (2012) observations, showing that attractive individuals generally receive more favorable evaluations.
Article 21: Mishra, S., Clark, A., & Daly, M. (2012). One woman’s behavior affects the attractiveness of others. In W.A. Lesko, Readings in social psychology: General, classical, and contemporary selections, Chapter 7. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Like Levine & Marano (2012), Mishra et al. (2012), above all, refer to the widely known studies by Kenrick, Gutierres, and Kanazawa involving the reaction of participants on viewing photos of highly attractive people. Conducting their own experiments, Mishra et al. (2012) went further to research such attractiveness factors as smile, art atmosphere, flirt, etc. Though Experiment 1 results have several nonconcurrences with Kenrick & Gutierres study, cited by Levine & Marano (2012), Mishra et al. (2012) generally support the idea on the interpretation of attractiveness expressed by Kenrick & Gutierres, Levine & Marano and Dion et al., but extend its understanding through the contrast effects observed in their Experiment 2, coming up to the idea that the function of attractiveness serves for the “effective allocation of mating effort”ť.