Do better looking people have better personalities?

Beauty: Just skin deep

Beauty: Just skin deep

By Lisa Wade, PhD @ Sociological Images

Do better looking people have better personalities?

People seem to think so.

At one time OkCupid gave users the opportunity to rate each other twice: once for personality and once for looks.  The two were strikingly correlated.

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Do better looking people have more fabulous personalities?  No. Here’s a hint: a woman with a personality rating in the 99th percentile whose profile contained no text at all.

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Perhaps people were judging both looks and personality by looks alone. OkTrends ran a test. Some people got to see a user’s profile picture and the text and others just saw the picture. Their ratings correlated which means, as Christian Rudder at OkTrends put it:

Your picture is worth that fabled thousand words, but your actual words are worth… almost nothing.

Their second “experiment” involved removing all of the pictures from the site for one full workday.  In response, users said something to the effect of hell no.  Here’s a graph showing the traffic on that day (in red) compared to a normal Tuesday (the dotted line):

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When they put the pictures back up, the conversations that had started petered out much more aggressively than usual. As Rudder put it:  “It was like we’d turned on the bright lights at the bar at midnight.”  This graph shows that conversations started during the blackout had a shorter life expectancy than conversations normally did.

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It’s too bad the people are putting such an emphasis on looks, because other data that OkCupid collected suggests that they aren’t as important as we think they are.  This figure shows the odds that a woman reported having a good time with someone she was set up with blind.  The odds are pretty even whether she and the guy are equally good looking, he’s much better looking, or she is.  Rudder says that the results for men are similar.

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This slightly edited post originally appeared on Sociological Images and is reposted with permission. You might also be interested in Sexual orientation and sexual behavior: OkCupid Data at their site.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 3, 2014, in body image, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. For me, looks don’t matter nearly as much as hygiene and scent. The pheromones and cleanliness have to be there for any attraction to take place initially (at least on a physical level). Of course, a good person with similar interests will always win out over a jerk type person if all other factors are equal.

    • You know, I’ve never consciously noticed the scent thing, though a lot of women seem to. If it’s working for me, it’s working unconsciously.

    • Yes, women do love men that are clean and smell good.

      I am a guy of average looks. But, I am very particular with hygiene, dress, and cleanliness. I also always wear cologne – Chanel Pour Monsieur or Chanel Bleu. I frequently get noticed by women as well as compliments. So, it does work!

      I have found that some of the better looking people tend not to be so friendly. Or at least towards people of average looks. Not all. I have a next door neighbor whose 24 year old daughter is very beautiful. But, she is very friendly, intelligent, and has a terrific personality. neighbor effect? I don’t think so. I think this is just her as a person.

      Good looking women get lots of attention from men – mostly “creeps” according to some. Hence, they tend to be not so friendly…….towards men.

      Just my observations.

      • I’ve heard a number of women talk about the attraction scent. Not sure why I’ve never noticed it. Of course, it could be working subconsciously.

      • I actually prefer it when guys (and women) don’t wear perfume or cologne…I like to be able to smell the person’s scent, not some fake/bottled smells. Also, a lot of people think “more is better”. Not so. I like to be able to breathe without having my nostrils assaulted, lol.

        Good observations, though I tend to dismiss a fair amount of the women who constantly talk about “creeps”. From what I’ve noticed, these men aren’t so much creepy as just socially awkward. Then again, I can be awkward myself, and would probably be called “creepy” if I didn’t have breasts.

        I’m told I’m good looking, usually a 7-8. I think I’m more of a 6, but that could be remnants of how often I was bullied in middle and high school. Being nice to people is just the way I am…I wonder if your neighbor was treated poorly too? That could be why she understands the importance of treating others with dignity.

        Or, she could be one of the few good looking people who is simply nice.

      • Tarnished, re:

        “I’m told I’m good looking, usually a 7-8. I think I’m more of a 6, but that could be remnants of how often I was bullied in middle and high school.”

        That’s actually not an indication that you weren’t attractive. In fact, attractive women are quite likely to be bullied. Here’s one example:

        From Being Bullied to Being a Star
        https://broadblogs.com/2013/10/09/from-being-bullied-to-being-a-star/

        And I agree about the “Creep” versus “Awkward.” For instance, what women don’t like is being stared at. To stare is to be socially awkward. And everyone is told that it’s not polite to stare, whether the person is attractive, disabled, Or anything else.

  2. Looks are deceptive. For me, personality and nature of a person matters most.

    • And apparently that’s true for most people, they just don’t seem to know it. (Based on the blind date data.)

    • Yes!!! I love women with vibrant personalities and intelligence. Looks is not even in my top five desired characteristics in a woman.

      Unfortunately, we see a person before we hear them. So, initial attraction for most people might well indeed be looks.

      Btw, in re to Tarnished above….

      “I’m told I’m good looking, usually a 7-8. I think I’m more of a 6, but that could be remnants of how often I was bullied in middle and high school.”

      I find your comment very very peculiar. It seems to me that most women would regard themselves as 8, 9, or 10. Yet, regard other women as a 5-6. Am I mistaken? Seems as if women tend to be quite critical of other women when it comes to looks and appearance.

      I can recalled being in a discussion on The Good Men Project last year where a woman stated that even an 8 is NOT considered “good looking” or “hot” by most women. So, I find it quite interesting that you regard yourself as a 6!

      Does anyone agree that most women view other women as average or below average? Personally, I put most women in the 8 category.

      As for my neighbor’s daughter, I think she grew up being quite confident in herself. She finished law school (Univ of Maryland) with all As. Even when she was a teenager, she always was very friendly and sociable. I just think it’s her nature to be friendly.

      • RE: It seems to me that most women would regard themselves as 8, 9, or 10. Yet, regard other women as a 5-6. Am I mistaken? Seems as if women tend to be quite critical of other women when it comes to looks and appearance.

        Both women and men typically gauge themselves as more attractive, yet 78% of women have poor body image, so it’s confusing. Then, women may say catty things about other women’s appearance to try to influence a guys perception, because women feel very judged by their looks.

  3. I thought actually the assumption would be more of men more likely to think or assume, pretty or hotter women were more likely to not be nice or stuck up. I think it’s more that men not caring since that won’t effect a man’s lust for a woman if seeing a picture of a hot woman even if he assumes she’s snobbish. I thought it was more likely that average or cute girls are seen as nicer than the “hot” women.

    Because I think some guy’s probably feel the “hot” women are less approachable,and wanting men that are great looking too or wealthy. I don’t think that, I think it goes by the person indivdually. I’ve known some pretty unattractive girls, whose attitude and personaloty just as unattractive as their looks. Some pretty girls, really caring, and sweet so the beauty outside matching the inside. But yes, I’m sure there are very pretty women gold diggers who are man eaters or use their looks to get what they want or use men for their money or reject most guys and only care about “hot” or wealthy, high status men. But it’s everything in between. Plenty of girls I work with, some very pretty, are very outgoing to everyone, and nice and approachable to people. So it’s the individual, though I realize there is and can be a perception from some about “hot” women being more likely to not be nice.

    • “I thought actually the assumption would be more of men more likely to think or assume, pretty or hotter women were more likely to not be nice or stuck up.”

      I would have guessed that too.

      In the movie, “When Harry Met Sally” a guy is told that Sally has a good personality, so he assumed she’s not attractive. He said something to the effect that when women aren’t attractive they are always described as having a good personality.

      So the data’s confusing to me.

    • “I thought it was more likely that average or cute girls are seen as nicer than the “hot” women.”

      As men, I think we view “average” women as cute and good enough. But, I am not sure if women feel the same. Is being cute the same as being average? I tend think the answer varies based on gender. No?

      • Average guys are fine, but women may need to get to know them first. Getting to know someone often makes them more attractive.

      • “Average guys are fine, but women may need to get to know them first.”

        So, does this mean good looking guys get a free pass? In other words they (good looking men) get the benefit of the doubt.

        Now, given your remark do you now understand why so many men are so skeptical of so many women? We have to constantly prove ourselves, unless we are good looking and/or uber attractive.

        Btw, I can confidently say that most men do not think the average woman needs to prove she is a nice person.

      • Good looking people of both genders are more likely to get a free pass.

        And when it comes to proving whether you’re nice or not, males are socialized to be tough and females are socialized to be nice. And many of us try to fit in to the expected categories, consciously or subconsciously. Also, men are on average bigger and stronger than women — and more violent. That goes a long way to explaining why the average woman doesn’t have to prove that she’s a nice person.

        And yet I’m still not skeptical of men. And I think most men aren’t skeptical of women.

  4. I’ve dated good looking guys and not so good looking guys and I don’t think it makes much different. Thinking about people I know I don’t think there is much of a corelation between good loooks and personality, though good looking people tend to be more out-going.

    • “Thinking about people I know I don’t think there is much of a corelation between good loooks and personality, though good looking people tend to be more out-going.”

      Contradictory. If there is no correlations, then how is it that in your view better looking means more outgoing (more positive/better) personality?

      • Well I dont think being outgoing means you have a great personality, you can be an outgoing pain in the arse. But you are right it did sound contriditory I should have said something like that for me, I haven’t found that I personally have got along better with the good looking versus the average,

  5. “I am a guy of average looks. But, I am very particular with hygiene, dress, and cleanliness. I also always wear cologne – Chanel Pour Monsieur or Chanel Bleu. I frequently get noticed by women as well as compliments. So, it does work!”.

    Are you sure you’re average looking? I see people sell themselves short sometimes, and even though you take care of yourself and use cologne. Women noticing you a lot and complimenting you would suggest you have to be fairly attractive. I’ve felt like a fairly nice looking person, but not from what I see in the mirror, because I know that can be biased. and like you stat or broadblogs said with most people rating themselves as more attractive than they are. But from attention, comments and flirts from cute, pretty, hot, girls and women. And just the variety, black girls, older women, younger girls, etc. There have been some gay men that I guess found me attractive too, but me being secure, wasn’t bothered and took it was a compliment, I guess. It sucks sometimes, because there have been some girls I work with who were pretty or cute and once in a while a customer who were younger, like 18. Yes, legal age, but me being close to 30 just don’t feel right. Girls for me have to be atleast, 21 or older.

    But though I’m older, I’ve had a hot girl customer look interested. So that’s how I judge if one is agood looking. If you get attention from pretty cute girls and comments, you have to be better looking than average. Average to me is inbetween. The not unattractive, but not really attractive either. It’s eh, he/she is alright. It’s like a C grade on a test. Hot is A, pretty/cute/nice looking is B and average looking is C. D is not good looking. and F is butt ugly.

  6. Looks and personality-character especially- have no correlation in my opinion. But sometimes the attraction hormone doesn’t allow one to really see a person beyond the physical. This can make us blind to someone’s glaring faults or cause us to completely disregard what could be the best thing sitting in front of us because often people will only see the surface. I know that when I was younger I probably missed out on getting to know a lot of great guys and got myself into more hassles than I should have because I was so blinded by cuteness.

    Really interesting data about people’s responses when online dating. I met my guy online and grateful for the technology but I definitely preferred the “olden days” when there was no Internet when it came to meeting up.

  7. Well “good looking ” is relative anyway. What I think is good looking – you might not…. So it is good that we all have different ideals. I do though agree with the scent and cleanliness, a very important factor for me too!

  8. For me…good looks stands nowhere if the person fails to generate an amicable and honest personality. But I admit, for greater number of people, irrespective of country,cast,colour and creed…looks does imply a lot.Most people are tend to judge a person by the look only…

    • Sounds right. Luckily, people can appear more attractive as we get to know them.

    • “Most people are tend to judge a person by the look only…”

      Yes, I think you are correct. Why do you think this is so? Is there anything we as individuals can do in our daily travels to combat this mentality?

      Looks can always be deceiving and sometimes are meant to be deceiving.

      • Well, why people do so is a question that needs vivid psychological discussion…I’m not going into it. The most effective and simple answer to it is that out of our four senses , we perhaps are more depended on eyes…so what we see,which pleases our eyes help a lot to generate our judgement.

        But as you’ve said rightly “Looks can always be deceiving and sometimes are meant to be deceiving.” so to combat this mentality one should concentrate on other gestures more…what else ? Share your views too… 🙂

  9. A very interesting post… I do think that good looking people may feel more confident… But that is just an assumption which can be true or false according to the given circumstances…
    I am now thinking in Oscar Wilde’s brief story “the Portrait of Dorian Gray”… In this particular case, the general rule doesn’t apply… Or not fully…
    Sometimes the external appearance is just a shell, and maybe a shade too.
    Thanks for the ready-witted post.
    Best wishes and happy week ahead to you, Aquileana 😀

  10. I’m regarded cover boy handsome-at 61!!!!-and have boyish charm to add to those boyish good looks,but if angered,I can be a REAL SOB!!!!!

  11. First of all, no. Better looking people do not have better personalities. I think there are a number of reasons why conversations on OK Cupid plummeted when no pictures were shown. If you think about the OK Cupid audience – they are a bunch of single people, looking to meet a pretty girl or a good looking guy. One of the first things that draw users to other users are there pictures. As materialistic as that sounds, it kind of makes sense. When you meet someone in person, you have to feel the right chemistry; so naturally, if you can’t meet someone, you want some other physical attraction to them. Not to say that you CAN’T have a meaningful conversation without seeing them, I’m just saying – based on the purpose of this website and the particular audience, I totally understand why the conversations stopped happening. The results from the “love is blind” experiment make much more sense to me. It’s easier to connect with someone in person, and feel interested in them when you can actually sit there and have a conversation with them!

  12. masscommblogproject

    First of all, no better looking people do not have better personalities. I think there are a number of reasons why conversations on OK Cupid plummeted when no pictures were shown. If you think about the OK Cupid audience – they are a bunch of single people, looking to meet a pretty girl or a good looking guy. One of the first things that draw users to other users are there pictures. As materialistic as that sounds, it kind of makes sense. When you meet someone in person, you have to feel the right chemistry; so naturally, if you can’t meet someone, you want some other physical attraction to them. Not to say that you CAN’T have a meaningful conversation without seeing them, I’m just saying – based on the purpose of this website and the particular audience, I totally understand why the conversations stopped happening. The results from the “love is blind” experiment make much more sense to me. It’s easier to connect with someone in person, and feel interested in them when you can actually sit there and have a conversation with them!

  13. I found this article to be extremely interesting for many reasons. The main reason that this sparked my interest was because I myself have an OkCupid account and so do many of my friends. I’m glad that OkCupid no longer lets its users rate other users based on looks and personality separately. Of course many of us judge people on looks first but just because one is attractive doesn’t mean their personality will be. I have found that those that are aware of their good looks tend to look down on others and treat them badly. This hasn’t been the case for everyone I have met but the majority of the time it is. A person’s look doesn’t determine who they are on the inside but I believe that who they are on the inside does determine who they are on the outside. No matter how pretty or handsome someone is, if they have a bad personality I won’t find them attractive.

  14. Gabriela Valdez Pacheco

    Do better looking people really have better personalities? I truly believe nowadays people are opening up their minds and would much rather be involved with someone with who they can share a mental connection with. Personally, I prefer someone who is intelligent, humorous, and ambitious. Sure, having beauty has its perks, but you can’t get away with a pretty face when it comes to encountering life responsibilities, unless you model for a living, but even then, modeling has its own time limit and we all age. What will you do then? I believe some people often take advantage of their good looks and think that is all they need to impress a man, a woman, a police officer, a landlord, a potential lover, a hiring manager and basically every person they interact with. The information on the charts shown above don’t really come off as a surprise to me. When a woman enhances her facial features with makeup for example, she is taken seriously and her sense of judgement is often considered valid. In my own workplace, I tend to do minor experiments with how customers treat me when I wear makeup versus when I don’t. With a made up face, I am complimented on my complexion as if it were my natural skin. When I respond that I am wearing makeup, I sense the awkwardness coming from the customer as they just realize they have indirectly pointed out my facial flaws. Another example is when regular customers who don’t usually acknowledge my existence, start up a conversation with me and even sometimes leave a nice tip. I am not sure if customers feel as though I give off some sort of new personality when I have a full face of makeup on, but I can say for sure my persona remains the same.

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