Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

couple_in_love_1600_wht_10952Or more specifically in the eyes of your peers,

Research presented to the Royal Society this week showed that when all your friends prefer blondes, then it’s more likely that you will too. Or brunettes, or redheads.

Lisa DeBruine, from Glasgow’s Face Research laboratory, described the “Angelina Jolie” effect. Stare at her lips for long enough and “everybody else’s seem abnormally thin“. People pick up their ideas of attractiveness from those around them, not from an objective standpoint.

Women find men attractive who other popular women find attractive, or the opposite.

This are good examples of “social proof” – one of the principles of influencing described by Robert Cialdini.

The laboratory has also found that we trust people who look like us, but don’t necessarily fancy them. “Trustworthy but not Lustworthy” as DeBruine pithily puts it.

Just nature’s way of helping us to avoid incest and narrowing the gene pool.


Spotted in the Times



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