Liking someone for their looks

It’s Okay to Love Someone for the Way They Look | by Megan Boley

Photo by Vitor Lima from Pexels

I’m never going to date someone I don’t find attractive.

Find someone who disagrees, I dare you.

That doesn’t make me shallow. It makes me human.

And it’s okay to love someone for the way that they look. Love and physical attraction go hand in hand.

But, you have to make sure that you love both who the person is and what they look like. If you only love their looks and not their personality, then that’s not real love. That’s lust, or attraction.

Attraction is more complicated than just physical attributes, although those are contributing factors. Attraction can grow even if it’s not immediately present from the outset. But there has to be some initial spark of interest — however minuscule — in order for that spark to grow. If it’s not there at all, it’s (probably) not going to happen.

I’ll put the disclaimer here that I have heard stories of people who aren’t initially attracted to one another and later grew to be over time. If that happens, it could be because their personality caused that spark of interest to grow into something more. Or maybe with regular exposure, you started to notice things about their behavior or the way they carry themselves that piqued your interest.

One of my boyfriends, when I first met him, I wasn’t super attracted to him. He was cute, but not swoon-worthy. As we got closer in our relationship and I got to know him better, that attraction skyrocketed. This has happened to me in other relationships, too. I’m sure you can think of more than a few examples in your own life.

The point is, there has to be some kind of spark or inkling, even if it’s buried deep in your subconscious. You can’t start a fire with a wet noodle. But even a wet noodle can catch on fire if there’s a match hidden in the nearby shed.

When I was in high school, both my first boyfriend and my first kiss just kind of happened to me — I didn’t really make a conscious decision about them. I didn’t pursue this guy. I didn’t pick him. It just sort of…occurred one day. He liked me, he kissed me, and then bam, suddenly I had a boyfriend.

This is how things work when you’re fifteen and have no idea what you’re doing.

He liked me a lot, and he was the first boy who ever expressed romantic interest in me. For my naive high school self, that was enough for me to want to give it a try.

But there was a glaring problem — I wasn’t attracted to him. At all. He wasn’t a bad looking guy by any means — I just wasn’t attracted to him. I thought that if I gave it time or got to know him better, I would change my mind. But that didn’t happen. After just a few short weeks, I called it quits.

I knew that since I wasn’t attracted to him, he could never be more than just a friend. He was a wet noodle that was never going to burst into flames, no matter how much time I gave him. That’s when I realized, it’s okay to not be attracted to someone.

You don’t have to be attracted to everyone who is attracted to you. It’s okay to want a partner that you are physically attracted to. You can, and should, have both physical and emotional attraction.

Your choice in partner shouldn’t be solely based on the way someone looks or how attracted you are to them. But I’d be lying if I said we could just throw looks out the window. Looks matter more and less to some people, but they do matter.

I’ve only ever dated one guy that I would classify as “universally hot.” And I like that about him. I like the way he looks. I like that he’s in shape. Who wouldn’t like that? But that’s not the only thing I like about him. He’s also steadfast and reliable. He’s trustworthy. He’s a gentleman and he’s considerate. He does a great British accent and he makes the best tacos. And he’s also really hot.

It’s okay if you love the way someone looks. It’s okay to love their hair or their eyes or their body. But you also need to love them for who they are. For the words they say and the way they treat you and others. For their mind. For their interests. For the way they snort-laugh anytime they hear a dad joke, or the way they curl up in a tiny ball on the couch when they’re watching TV.

You can love them for the way they look and for how hot they are, but love them for the simple moments, too. Love them for the moments that show their soul.

Especially early in a relationship, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement, the newness, the flurry of emotions. During this time, it’s especially easy to let your hormones trick you into thinking that you’re in love, when really you’re in lust.

To keep yourself in check, make sure that you can list out at least five non-physical qualities that you like about them. Ideally, this list should be longer than five. It should go on for a good long while.

If you struggle to come up with even five tangible, redeeming qualities about their personality, then that should be a red flag to you that maybe you’re not in the relationship for the right reasons. Which, it’s okay to date someone for whatever reasons you want to date them for — even shallow reasons.

But it’s not okay if the other person thinks you love them when you really just love their body or the way they look — otherwise known as “attraction.”

When I’m super in love, I’ll write letters to the person I love. But those letters aren’t for them — they’re for me.

I’ll write a letter after a date with them that I enjoyed, or to encapsulate a moment or memory that I want to preserve. I write what I love about them or why that moment stands out to me. I’ll write about what I want for our future or what I’m thankful for that they’ve done for me.

But I never give them these letters. They don’t even know that I do this. Because even though the letters are about them, it’s more about me being honest with myself about my feelings. If I don’t want to write these secret love letters to the person I say I’m in love with, then I know I’m not really in love.

Look back over your past loves — the true loves, the ones you loved for the right reasons. Try to determine your own love benchmark — what’s the common denominator that you’ve always exhibited in the past to know you’re in love?

It might be something like wanting them to meet your family, moving in together, traveling together, or something kind of quirky like mine. Make a note of your love benchmark and hold yourself to it. Keep yourself honest.

There’s nothing wrong with loving both the container and its contents. Just make sure that if you say you’re in love, you do actually love the contents, too.

How Much Do Looks Really Matter in a Relationship?

Something you may be wondering — but may be hesitant to ask — is if how you look will have an impact on your relationship. And if it does, well, how much?

Here’s the thing: Appearances do matter in relationships, but this doesn’t mean that looks are the most important aspect of intimacy.

Attractiveness is subjective, and many individuals will have different preferences and find different qualities attractive.

Many of us hear that physical appearance plays a role in relationships and jump to the conclusion that only the supermodels and famous actors of the world could have any luck in love. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Even though looks do play a role in dating, what actually attracts a partner physically may not be what you expect.

Everyone has their own insecurities, and no one is perfect. However, there are certain physical traits that can make partners more attractive and carry some weight in your relationship.

Yes, a level of physical attraction is necessary for most people in romantic relationships. A notable exception is if you identify as asexual. Some people who identify as asexual feel romantically attracted to others without feeling sexual attraction.

However, when it comes to “looks” and “attractiveness,” the definitions are often confusing and vague, and can depend on the era, culture, and individual.

For many people, “looks” don’t necessarily refer to someone’s physical features. Many people find physical attributes like personal style, hygiene, or posture attractive, too.

It’s also important to note that sometimes attractiveness doesn’t have anything to do with your physical attributes. Attractiveness can include many things that go beyond the physical, such as:

  • having a sense of humor
  • having shared interests with your partner
  • being kind
  • having values and principals
  • making your partner feel safe and happy
  • being attractive to others

That’s all to say, looks aren’t the only thing that can attract you to someone.

Definitions of physical attractiveness have changed over history

Let’s explore the role “looks” play in the attractiveness equation.

On a societal level, our definition of beauty today is different than it was 500 years ago, according to research.

Most notably, in the last decade, there’s been a social media-induced phenomenon in which new standards of beauty are evolving out of the digital space.

“Snapchat dysmorphia” is a perfect example of how virtual communication has given rise to different ideals of beauty that tend to affect the nature of dating, according to one paper.

This is a phenomenon in which people who use Snapchat and other social apps develop body dysmorphic disorder. They want to look like their online selves, even though their images online don’t reflect their true appearance and have been modified using filters and visual effects.

However, some changes in beauty standards have had a positive influence, such as increasing inclusivity.

We now see many more people of color as symbols of beauty in the media. Due to the exposure effect, this increased representation may drive us to collectively recognize the beauty of different races and ethnicities in our day-to-day lives.

Researchers found that increasing people’s exposure to certain faces increased the attractiveness ratings they gave those faces.

This may suggest we’ll see interracial dating and cross-cultural attraction and acceptance more frequently.

Thus, the idea of beauty, though very real, is subject to change and can have many different effects.

Evolutionary perspective

Evolutionary scientists think that some aspects of attraction and mate choice are evolved — that is, they’re in our genes, not solely a product of our environment.

For example, researchers have found that men (straight and gay) tend to find potential mates more attractive when they show physical signs of fertility. In women, one physical attribute linked with fertility is waist-to-hip ratio. Another is age.

In fact, age appears to be an attractiveness factor for men and women alike, with women consistently choosing to marry older men and men tending to choose younger women across dozens of cultures, according to one 2018 review.

Scientists believe that women’s evaluation of the physical attractiveness of a mate is influenced by indications of the potential mate’s genetic quality as well as the mate’s ability to protect and invest in her and her children.

One indicator of these qualities is men’s musculature, particularly in the upper body. Researchers have found it’s a feature women tend to find attractive in men.

Of course, these evolved preferences are complex and interact with other factors. Individual differences, culture, and environment also play a major role in shaping what you find attractive in a potential partner.

Personal taste

At the individual level, people can simply just have different tastes. You’ve probably heard the age-old question, “What’s your type?”

Many people find themselves attracted to a certain set of features, but what that looks like can vary from person to person.

Research shows the perception of whether someone’s face is attractive may be shaped by environment rather than genes. Furthermore, people tend to disagree about who has an attractive face as much as they tend to agree.

When it comes to physical attraction, a lot is subjective, and there’s someone for everyone.

Do looks matter to everyone?

The short answer is, it’s complicated. Research has shown that men tend to rate physical attractiveness as more critical in a potential mate than women do, on average.

Some research has shown that women tend to say they value qualities like ambition, industriousness, friendliness, and kindness more than physical appearance.

That said, this particular study concluded that, even though other qualities were more important, women reported that a minimum level of physical attractiveness was a necessity for a potential mate.

For men, looks seem to matter slightly more, on average, according to research. However, the men that were studied still valued personality traits like thoughtfulness, spontaneity, and humility.

It’s important to note that these are averages and that there can be great variation between individuals, so it’s important not to generalize about someone’s attractiveness preferences based on their gender.

Moreover, many people identify as genders other than male or female, so these research findings may not represent other genders or gender nonconforming folks and should be taken with a grain of salt.

In a relationship, personal qualities like humility and kindness may become much more important in determining the success of the relationship over time.

While looks may be important in initial attraction, what really holds a relationship together has much more to do with how two people connect on a deeper level.

You’ve probably heard of the phrase “love at first sight.” This is the idea that you can know you love someone just by laying eyes on them for that very first time. But is it actually real?

One study shows that what is known as “love at first sight” is actually just a very high level of physical attraction that people report as love in hindsight.

This might show that, at times, you might confuse love with physical attraction.

Love can begin through physical attraction — and oftentimes it does. However, physical attraction alone doesn’t make a lasting romantic relationship.

Can you love someone you’re not physically attracted to?

Yes. Romantic attraction and sexual attraction are two distinct phenomena, according to studies.

In other words, you can love someone romantically without being sexually attracted to them.

It may be less common for someone to begin a romantic relationship with someone they’re not sexually attracted to. However, many people may experience this, such as those who identify as asexual.

It’s also completely normal to lose at least some of the physical attraction toward your partner as time goes on, especially for women, according to research.

Does love make us see the person we love as more attractive?

Not only can being in love with someone make you see them as more beautiful, but just being around someone can make you see them as more attractive.

According to research, people rated faces that were more familiar as more attractive. To a significant extent, familiarity can breed attraction.


Like other physical attributes — height, weight, body shape, skin — pheromones may play a role in attraction for both women and men.

Pheromones are chemicals animals secrete that trigger a social response in members of the same species.

Results in this area of research are controversial. One 2015 review said that a lot of the research done to date on human pheromones wasn’t valid and that scientists had yet to identify human pheromones with certainty.

One study from 2013 applied a supposed pheromone androstadienone and other hormones from men’s sweat onto women’s upper lips. Researchers reported the women showed increased mood, focus, and sexual response as a result.

A 2019 study exposed men to the smell of estratetraenol, a hormone that is thought to be in women’s sweat and other secretions. In response, the men showed increased brain activity in an area related to sex, among other complex reactions.

So, even though pheromones don’t qualify as “looks,” they may play a role in physical attraction.

Scientists need to do more research on human pheromones to find out more.

All in all, most romantic relationships involve some level of physical or sexual attraction. This means that “looks,” in a sense, do matter.

However, appearances are not the foundation of a relationship, and they are certainly not the main reason that a relationship will fail or succeed in the long term.

If acknowledging that appearances matter in relationships makes you uncomfortable, remember that physical appearance involves more than just looks, including health, personal habits, style, and values.

So, appearances do matter, but not always for the reasons you might think.

“Not my type”: why we like some faces and dislike others




Understanding the mechanisms that make people attractive in our eyes

Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

 In the "Question" section, Reminder answers readers' questions. You can send your question to [email protected] marked "I want to ask". 

In this issue we answer Denis's question:

Why do people like different faces? The same person seems attractive to someone, but not at all to someone. I mean the outer appeal.


Physical attractiveness is not an objective quality, but a reflection of our preferences, behind which there are many motives: from the neurochemical and biological mechanisms associated with choosing the optimal partner for procreation, to cultural stereotypes, social influence and, of course, personal experience. It is he who brings the final touch to our tastes and determines the subjective perception of beauty.


Evaluation of another person's appearance can mean different things. If we consider him/her to be cute, this may indicate:

  1. Attraction with a desire for a long-term relationship (creating offspring).
  2. Momentary sexual desire (not counting on a long relationship).
  3. Aesthetic attraction: we recognize the “objective” attractiveness of a person (“correct” facial features, compliance with common beauty standards), perhaps unconsciously admire him, but conclude that he / she is “not our type”.

This means that different people may find the same person attractive for different reasons. And our sympathies are determined by several mechanisms.

Biology and evolution

  • According to one of the popular theories, we unconsciously find attractive people with a healthy appearance . Those who have a symmetrical face (a sign of normal development during childhood and adolescence), clear and even skin, regular features and a "healthy" complexion. Evolution tells us that with such partners we are more likely to create viable offspring.
  • We are also attracted to people with an average appearance of - typical of the country or region where we live. For example, the most attractive lips seem to us those that, in shape and size, occupy an intermediate position between the plumpest and narrowest in our environment. The same applies to other parts of the face. If we put together the average features characteristic of representatives of a certain ethnic group, then from their point of view we get an “ideal” face. Faces that deviate only slightly from the “golden mean” will also be considered attractive. Why do we like average so much? Most likely, a person with this appearance looks like a carrier of a variety of genes, and genetic diversity increases the chances for the survival of offspring.
  • Hormones also drive our tastes . When it comes to heterosexual preferences, men are attracted to more feminine facial features, and women are attracted to more masculine ones. External signs of femininity (rounded corners, small lower jaw, large eyes, lack of hairline) usually indicate a fairly high level of female sex hormones. And a masculine appearance (a sharply defined chin, protruding cheekbones, facial hair) is a typical sign of a high concentration of testosterone. In women, preferences can even depend on their own hormonal background: studies show that during the period of ovulation, attraction to men with clearly masculine facial features increases.

Sounds logical. But the question is how much these basic biological mechanisms guide us in real life. Some scientific evidence reveals gaps in this scheme. For example, large-scale studies say that people don't care how symmetrical another person's face is (perfectly symmetrical faces look strange to many, and people with regular facial features are actually not healthier than others). The averageness of facial features is not necessarily a guarantee of attractiveness. A woman's estrogen levels also don't always make a masculine-looking man more beautiful in her eyes (background piano music does a much better job of that). Finally, if biological mechanisms were of paramount importance, we would not have such a subjective perception of beauty.

Culture and society

Our preferences are imperceptibly formed by the cultural and social atmosphere in which we grow up. For example, we unconsciously change the idea of ​​a person's attractiveness (or type) depending on how high or low our environment evaluates his attractiveness. Moreover, research has shown that even the opinions of strangers influence us here. American scientists compared how subjects evaluate the attractiveness of faces in photographs before and after they are told the average score of their attractiveness according to other people. It turned out that someone else's assessment affects the perception of the face, even at the level of neuronal activation. In a similar experiment at Johns Hopkins University, all subjects, influenced by the opinions of others, ended up agreeing on attractiveness ratings.

What is the secret behind the contagiousness of cultural and social trends? The tendency to unconsciously align with other people's opinions is a very pragmatic psychological mechanism that helps take the extra workload off the brain, explains psychologist Anthony Little: And with the development of social networks, this mutual “learning” has reached the planetary level.”

Personal experience

It is he who gives individuality to preferences. Although it is not formed in a vacuum.

  • Imprinted . Often we are drawn to people who are somewhat similar in appearance to our parents. And this is quite natural. From birth, the facial features and facial expressions of our parents are firmly fixed in the psyche - this process is called imprinting. The image of the people who ensured our survival is so deeply engraved in our memory that we are guided by it even in adulthood when choosing a partner for long-term relationships (1, 2). We are not talking about a literal similarity: we need not a clone, but a “remake”. Enough of a few coincidences: the same facial expressions or face shape, the same position of the corners of the mouth or the distance between the eyes, etc. By the same principle, we can also like people who outwardly resemble the person with whom we had our first serious relationship.
  • Personal assessment. We are known to be attracted to people who are close to us in character and beliefs. And what about external attraction? Judging by the research, we are able to quite accurately determine some character traits - from the level of self-esteem to religious beliefs - not only by the face of a person during live communication, but also simply by photographs (1, 2, 3). The same can be taught to do a neural network. So, there are objective parameters of appearance that reflect certain personality traits. We unconsciously read this information at the first glance at a person and just as unconsciously evaluate the degree of our compatibility. Its attractiveness in our eyes also depends on this conclusion.
  • Aesthetic experience. We have already written that any aesthetically significant stimulus seems more attractive under two conditions: on the one hand, it must lend itself well to recognition and interpretation (that is, in some sense be familiar to us), and on the other hand, it must carry new information in itself (an element of uncertainty). If these factors are well balanced, the neural reward circuit is activated to the maximum. This is clearly seen in the example of the perception of art. Experience and "observation" are individual parameters, therefore, the balance between recognition and surprise is different for everyone. If we evaluate a person's face as an aesthetically significant stimulus, for example, as a picture, then the combination of familiar features with some kind of "zest" - a new and original feature that our eyes cling to, should seem attractive to us.

Although we immediately understand whether we like a person, during this moment several biological, socio-cultural and psychological mechanisms manage to work in the subconscious at once. Individually, their algorithms can be calculated, but the result of their interaction is unpredictable each time. Therefore, there is always freedom of choice.

The Ugly Truth: How Appearance Affects Our Lives

  • David Robson
  • BBC Future

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The features of one's own face can greatly help or hinder a person - and it's not just about attractiveness. People around you usually unconsciously evaluate your appearance according to criteria that you did not even think about, correspondent warns BBC Future .

Imagine that you have a non-identical twin. You got the same upbringing, have the same IQ, the same education, the same hobbies. You are equally sociable, adventurous, interesting. Go to the same sports club for sports, like to eat the same dishes.

Spiritually and intellectually, you are doubles. There is only one difference: your faces. Let's say one of you has semi-childish features with wide eyes. And the other has sharp cheekbones and a more brutal (in some ways even slightly Neanderthal) forehead.

How will your lives develop over the years? Will you follow the same path, or will small differences in appearance force you to take different paths?

The latter is true. Just by throwing one glance at you, others immediately draw conclusions about your abilities and whether you can be trusted; decide whether you are a leader or a performer. And these biases can influence the most important events in your life, determining everything from your circle of friends to your bank account balance.

(More BBC Future articles in Russian)

"We tend to think we make decisions rationally, but in reality we are often influenced by rather superficial cues," says Carnegie Mellon University's Christopher Olivola. "And in that sense, looks - absolutely superficial, but very important factor."

Until now, the tendency to evaluate a person by his appearance ("hypocrisy", as Olivola and his colleagues call it) was taken for granted. But the more scientists understand the impact this has on our lives, the more they begin to wonder if "hypocrisy" should not be considered a harmful prejudice that needs to be fought.

Physical attractiveness can be considered its main component, especially considering how closely we follow the adventures of celebrities. Back in the 1990s, economist Daniel Hamermesh found that beautiful people can earn 10-12% more than their average-looking counterparts, a trend that can be seen across careers ranging from American football to law and even economics.

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Image caption,

Even the smallest differences in appearance can send twins on different paths in life

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"A nasty discovery," Hamermesh says now, a couple of decades later. True, he found at least one exception to the rule - a pretty appearance is not very useful for people who trade in armed robbery. "If a robber can intimidate you to give you money, then he does not have to resort to physical violence," he notes.

As we have already mentioned, beauty does not always help law-abiding people either: an attractive woman, for example, can be flunked at an interview, believing that her appearance can interfere with her professional activities.

One way or another, we sometimes attribute too much importance to beauty, forgetting about other forms of "facial discrimination". Alexander Todorov, a colleague of Olivola at Princeton University, set up a curious experiment 10 years ago: he asked subjects to look at photographs of American politicians running for congress and the Senate (given only one second for each photo), and then rate on a numerical scale how they looked like suitable candidates. Even after taking into account other factors, such as age and attractiveness, it turned out that a second of thinking allowed the participants in the experiment to guess the winning candidate 70% of the time.

A similar result was obtained by later studies, which studied how facial features affect the success of the owner (without attractiveness). It turned out that the more powerful a person looks, the more chances he has to get to the post of head of the company - and earn more money at the same time. The scientists also asked the subjects to evaluate the faces of cadets of military schools for authority - and it turned out that subsequently the career went faster for those cadets who received high marks in this experience.

Image copyright Getty

Image caption

Has your appearance ever let you down?

It is also widely believed that one can conclude from the face that the person in the photograph is honest. When subjects are shown a set of pictures, they tend to agree on which people they can trust—which affects their willingness to lend money to those people. In court, an open face can even help to get away with it: scientists have found that suspects who outwardly inspire confidence are more likely to be acquitted with equivalent evidence.

It must be admitted that these conclusions are made on the basis of completely subjective assessments. How do people know what traits make a person look bossy, intellectually capable, or dominant? Perhaps we are simply reacting to facial expressions - an open smile or displeasedly shifted eyebrows. Facial expressions certainly matter. But there is reason to believe that we notice other, more permanent features.

For example, Olivola and Todorov in their research used carefully designed computer images of faces with completely neutral expressions to exclude the influence of facial expressions on perception. The scientists asked the subjects to evaluate the faces and, by comparing the ratings of numerous images, were able to create sketches, the features of which most fully reflect one or another character trait. Looking at these sketches, we can conclude that in our perception of a person we are guided by a whole complex of different facial features - from the shape of the eyebrows to the bone structure of the skull.

Take a look at this photo and see if you yourself look competent, bossy, extroverted, or trustworthy.

Photo copyright, Christopher Olivola Friederike Funk Alexander Todorov

Photo caption,

These faces reflect, in ascending order: (A) competence, (B) authority, (C) extraversion, (D) trustworthiness

that they themselves would never perceive the people around them so superficially. But in fact, as soon as we meet someone, we immediately unconsciously give this person an assessment. Todorov has shown that it takes only 40 milliseconds to form a first impression of a person (it takes 10 times longer to blink once). And this skill is formed from a very early age: three-four-year-old kids, based on their appearance, are already taken to draw conclusions about who is "bad" and who is "good."

In principle, there is nothing wrong with such superficial judgments - provided that they basically correspond to reality. There really is a reasonable grain in them: Jean-Francois Bonnefont and colleagues from the French National Center for Scientific Research recently conducted an experiment in which participants played an economic game. They were each given a few euros and had to decide whether to invest in other players - who in turn could either take all the money for themselves (the "unfair" option) or share the profits (the "fair" option).

Based on just one photo, participants could predict which behavior option their partner would choose - and it turned out that with the help of a photo portrait, they actually guessed more often than if they made a choice purely by chance. The scientist believes that the results of this experience make us think about the curious questions of human evolution: “It is difficult to understand why nature decided to put on our faces the sign “I cannot be trusted.” In addition, the face can also reflect hormone levels and the health of the immune system.

But from a practical point of view, our accuracy in visual assessment of other people's traits leaves much to be desired and may even do more harm than good. "People pay too much attention to appearance, forgetting about other information that they already possess," says Olivola. For example, in games where honesty and trust are important, participants tend to trust a partner with innocent features - even with reliable information that this person has previously been caught cheating.

So, going back to our twins, it's not hard to imagine how the difference in initial perception of appearance can lead you and your imaginary non-identical twin brother down very different life paths. Appearance can determine your fate in a variety of situations: when you come to a party, meet the parents of your bride or groom, get a job or try to get a loan from the bank.

This issue is especially important in today's world, Olivola notes: “With social media accounts, we can form an impression of ourselves even before we start talking to a person, and even before we get to know each other personally. Imagine that you are hiring a new assistant.You are going to look at all the resumes as objectively as possible, but if you catch your eye on a photo, then a grain of bias has already been planted in your soul. This can distort the perception of further information. " Bonnefon agrees with Olivola: "Perhaps, it is impossible to wean people from drawing instant conclusions - we do so automatically."

Image copyright, Getty

Image caption,

Wide eyes can mean innocence - but first impressions can often be deceiving

With these considerations in mind, Olivola and Todorov recently wrote an article in which they wrote that it is time for psychologists to think about methods opposition to "hypocrisy". “If it is necessary to make an important decision, then I try to structure the incoming information in such a way that the person appears at the very end of the process,” Todorov says. “When we interview graduates, I know even before a personal meeting whether I want to work with this other candidate. The most important information is information about past successes and letters of recommendation. "

Olivola even suggests screening candidates during interviews, although he acknowledges that this may not be the most practical solution. However, the experience of many professional music orchestras shows that blindfold auditions reduce the impact of bias on the outcome: for example, one study found that more women were admitted to orchestras this way.

In his book Beauty Pays, Hamermesh writes that the appearance bias can lead to unpleasant legal consequences - if, for example, you can demonstrate in court that you are paid less than your colleagues who look more attractive. But the preparation and adoption of new laws require money, and the scientist believes that these resources may be worth using to solve more pressing problems.

"The question is: do we want to spend public funds to protect ugly people when, in my personal opinion, other groups deserve more attention?" he asks.

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