What Is Beautiful Is Good, But... A Meta-Analytic Review of Research on the Physical Attractiveness Stereotype

Alice H. Eagly*, Richard D. Ashmore, Mona G. Makhijani, Laura C. Longo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1067 Scopus citations

Abstract

This review demonstrates that the physical attractiveness stereotype established by studies of person perception is not as strong or general as suggested by the often-used summary phrase what is beautiful is good. Although subjects in these studies ascribed more favorable personality traits and more successful life outcomes to attractive than unattractive targets, the average magnitude of this beauty-is-good effect was moderate, and the strength of the effect varied considerably from study to study. Consistent with our implicit personality theory framework, a substantial portion of this variation was explained by the specific content of the inferences that subjects were asked to make: The differences in subjects' perception of attractive and unattractive targets were largest for indexes of social competence; intermediate for potency, adjustment, and intellectual competence; and near zero for integrity and concern for others. The strength of the physical attractiveness stereotype also varied as a function of other attributes of the studies, including the presence of individuating information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-128
Number of pages20
JournalPsychological bulletin
Volume110
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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