A new study has concluded that the more good-looking a man’s body is, the more likely he is to have attitudes that promote selfishness and inequality.
Researchers from Brunel University in London set out to test an evolutionary psychology theory that argues that because attractive people tend to prevail in competitions for social status, they have more to gain from perpetuating inequality in society.
“We found that attractive men tended to be less egalitarian and less generous. But that wasn’t the case with attractive women,” explained lead investigator and senior lecturer in psychology, Dr Michael Price.
The team used a 3D body scanner to measure 125 male and female participants’ bodies, and scored them on standard attractiveness measures.
The participants also filled out a personality questionnaire which measured their behaviour and attitudes about inequality and selfishness, and they took part in an economics experiment in which they were given money and asked to decide how much to share with someone else.
The psychologists then asked another group to rate the 125 scanned body images for attractiveness, and a second group of raters to judge how altruistic and egalitarian they thought the people in the images would be in real life.
The researchers found that ‘raters’ perceived better-looking men and women as being less altruistic and egalitarian and that the results from the 125 participants’ tests backed them up.
“Our results showed that in fact we may be justified in expecting more attractive men to behave in ways that are less favourable to economic and social equality,” Dr Price said. “The results suggest that better-looking men may be biased towards being more selfish and less egalitarian.”
Dr Price believes that this selfishness can be overcome, commenting: “The best way to help people overcome a bias is to make them more conscious that they have it.”
He pointed out that the study doesn’t mean that all attractive men are selfish. “The correlation between attractiveness and selfishness was nowhere close to being perfect, and many very attractive men will also be very altruistic and egalitarian.”
The researcher’s believe that the study adds a new perspective on why some men may be more selfish than others. “Several studies have suggested that wealthier people tend to care less about kindness and equality, but our study suggests that attractiveness is at least as important as wealth in influencing these attitudes,” said Dr Price.
The article, Bodily Attractiveness and Egalitarianism are Negatively Related in Males, is published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.