A couple of people commented on my last post, correctly pointing out that physical attraction matters and it’d be foolish to try to ignore it. The heart wants what it wants, as they say. So do the genitals.
It reminded me of this study, which presented young women with profiles and pictures of men and asked them how likely they would be to date each one. The study concluded that “attractive men were consistently preferred and physical attractiveness was found to be the single most influential target variable on the subject’s preferences.” That’s obviously not quite Nobel-prize-worthy ground-breaking research. What’s interesting is what the women had to say about why they preferred the men that they did.
The researchers asked the women how much physical attractiveness mattered to them. One group of women in the study simply answered the question. The other answered the question while being strapped to a (fake) lie detector. Guess which group admitted to placing more of an importance on looks? “Participants’ reluctance to disclose the full extent to which they thought that they were affected by physical attractiveness, was overcome only under the pressure to be honest,” the researchers wrote. “In other words, not only are women shallow, but they’re also lying scum, especially Carla, that bitch, who we hope is happy with that MBA jerk and–” Okay, they didn’t actually write that last part, but I can totally picture it.
Everyone knows that despite all protestations to the contrary, people place great importance on looks. What’s interesting about this study is that it gives evidence that the importance we place on looks is not subconscious — people are aware of it, but lie to everyone and proclaim that looks don’t matter as much as they really do.
I wonder what the results would be if this experiment was repeated on men. It’s more socially acceptable for a guy to be shallow than for a woman, so it’d be interesting to see if the same gap exists between the men who are forced to be honest and the ones who aren’t. My prediction is that the difference between the two groups would be smaller. Men are mostly honest about being shallow. After all, it’s the men who can completely describe a date to their friend as, “Eh, she’s a 6,” with no further information being necessary.
And speaking of which, I don’t like the whole 1-10 scale that guys use. I think a more pertinent scale is the 0-to-1 scale: 0 is “Definitely would not sleep with” and 1 is “Definitely would sleep with.”
0.5 is “Would sleep with if drunk, but wouldn’t tell my friends about it.”