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The people you’re with determine how attractive you are, study finds

Monday, October 3, 2016 14:26
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It’s been fodder for all kinds of TV and movie comedies, and now research confirms people can seem more attractive when they hang out with people who are less attractive than them.

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the new study makes the case against the idea that a person’s perceived attractiveness is somehow fixed and relatively unchangeable.

“Rightly or wrongly, the way people look has a profound impact on the way others perceive them,” study author Nicholas Furl, a psychologist at the Royal Holloway University of London, said in a news release. “We live in a society obsessed with beauty and attractiveness, but how we measure and understand these concepts is still a grey area.

“Until now, it’s been understood that a person’s level of attractiveness is generally steady,” he added. “If you saw a picture of George Clooney today, you would rate him as good-looking as you would tomorrow. However, this work demonstrates that the company we keep has an effect on how attractive we appear to others.”

Making Comparisons Between People

In the study, volunteers in the study were required to rate images of several faces for attractiveness, one at a time.

They were then asked to evaluate the same faces but this time the images were put next to people rated to be undesirable. When including these ‘distractor faces’, people ranked the same faces higher in the second trial than in the first.

Volunteers were then presented two attractive faces next to a ‘distractor’ face and asked to judge them together. The inclusion of the less attractive face was seen to make the observers even more critical.

“The presence of a less attractive face does not just increase the attractiveness of a single person, but in a crowd could actually make us even more choosey!” Furl said. “We found that the presence of a ‘distractor’ face makes differences between attractive people more obvious and observers start to pull apart these differences, making them even more particular in their judgment.

“It’s perhaps not too surprising that we are judged in relation to those around us.,” he added.


Image credit: Thinkstock

The post The people you’re with determine how attractive you are, study finds appeared first on Redorbit.
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