Term paper on Literature Review: Chapter 7 in W.A. Lesko, Readings in social psychology: General, classical, and contemporary selections


Thought the discussed articles involve serious evidence on proving the effects of attractiveness on personality perception, in our opinion, there is still a number of aspects to be considered.

One of them is surely the difference in individual perception of attractiveness in comparison to the idealized pattern. In particular, a significant number of men report to hate skinny women, which have already become the “picture perfect” and an example many women are eager to follow. Another aspect here is the idealization of people we love: our parents, mates, our children who we really perceive the way they factually are, but rather the way we want them to see.

Besides, there’s a significant difference between gender perceptions of the opposite sex, which is, though, partly taken into account in Mishra et al. (2012) experiments. Indeed, while men really show to be more sensitive to external factors, “love with the eyes” and may attribute the beauty of a woman as the sign of their social status, for women, physical beauty of a partner is not a deciding factor in most cases. To charm a woman, man should rather have some expressive detail that speaks for strength and reliability, expressed in the form of general harmony. Another important circumstance generated by the modern mass culture is that recent brain scans of men viewing images of sexy looking people show that men generally determine other men as “humans” and sex-appealing women as “objects” (things). Indeed, women of Hollywood beauty are often unhappy in their personal life: perceived as status attributes, they are desirable for “having affairs”, not for getting married.

Besides, an important factor in assessing attractiveness is age. The above cited researches are mainly based on students and undergraduates as the participants, while the perception of visual appeal and its value in romantic relationships is known to change over the years. In youth, beauty has an almost magical power, as the appearance of a possible partner is often a decisive criterion in case of liking or disliking. Admiring the beauty, inexperienced young people automatically tend to assigning spiritual perfection to physically attractive person. Later, having gained experience, people use to learn distinguishing internal and external beauty and understand that they are not always related directly, while such factors as common interests, tastes and lifestyles, mutual understanding and the sincerity of feelings start being more influential factors in the process of interpersonal attraction.

The other side of this not covered by the researchers is that the abovementioned stereotype may also direct the interaction to the path where it obtains behavioral confirmation. Labeling people as physically attractive or unattractive, we, in turn, cause a person to target the behaviors that are consistent with the stereotype. This means that attractive people can actually start acting friendly, nice and sociably, and not necessarily because they previously had these traits, but because the behavior of others supports the behavior patterns that are considered to be the manifestations of these physical traits.




The discussed studies demonstrate that physically attractive people are also often seen as more temperamental, responsive, sensitive, kind, interesting, strong, harmonious, modest, sociable and friendly than people with less attractive appearance. Here, it is important to mark that as a sign of attraction, the efforts expended by a person to meet socially approved type appearance are typically considered. Such signs are getting fixed in subconscious and switch on the scheme, under which a person is considered either attractive, and then one’s invisible qualities are overestimated, or unattractive, and then the underestimation of the remaining traits takes place. In fact, this mental conclusion seems obvious for the human mind: it is believed that a successful person should look toned and sexy, one’s face should not have wrinkles as signs of anxiety and sadness, one should always be happy and wear a friendly smile. Thus, a beautiful person gets perceived as healthy, fertile, desirable for dating and marital efforts.

According to authors, the main effects of this stereotype is the distortion in the perception of real-life people in contrast to media images, including mates, appearance of inferiority complexes, changes in expectations about surrounding people, increase in divorce rates, overestimation of internal appearance and unhealthy cult of beauty. On a whole, the discussed researches produce a fascinating approach to viewing the process of interpersonal attraction; however, they also have their limitations. Therefore, there is a need for further research involving multiple factors influencing human perception of physical attractiveness and considering the extent of attractiveness stereotype influence.



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