Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Looks don't matter or do they??

Looks don’t matter, or do they?

Looks don’t matter! Such a clichéd statement. However much we may deny it, most if not all of us are influenced by physical characteristics.
I did a little experiment to find out. I made three profiles on a Blog site . All with the same interests and character but very different physical characteristics. On one of the profiles , I put myself as a fairly unattractive person and put a picture that was not very pleasing to the eye. A distorted image with excess body weight , messy hairdo and an unkempt look . On the second profile, I put a very attractive picture and portrayed myself as a tall, slim , perfectly proportioned 38 year old. The third profile was the real me. A natural mother and daughter picture.
The profiles of all the three were exactly the same. Same interests, same likes and dislikes, wanting to meet the same kind of people and wanting to network. Any guesses for who got the most no. of hits? Of course the profile with the most attractive picture. No surprises here, but there was a bit of a surprise element. There were more people wanting to be friends with the real me than the beautiful me. Why was that? I have studied a bit of psychology so I know the answer, but can you guess?
I went a step further, I sent out invitations to different people to become my friends. Almost all the ones who had been invited by the beautiful face agreed. About 90% from the real face agreed and only 40% from the unattractive face agreed to become friends. All this was not even in real life, it was just on a computer screen. Well maybe that is exactly why . The people did not get a chance to know the real person behind the mask, so they made their decision based on looks. So do looks really matter? I would say, they do. I just finished reading Malcom Gladwell’s “blink”. He talks about the “ The Warren Harding Error:” Mark Sullivan a journalist wrote this about him.
Harding was worth looking at. He was at the time about 35 years old. His head, features, shoulders and torso had a size that attracted attention; their proportions to each other made an effect which in any male at any place would justify more than the term handsome- in later years, when he came to be known beyond his local world, the word “Roman” was occasionally used in descriptions of him.
To quote Gladwell, “ Harding was not a particularly intelligent man. He liked to play pokerand golf and to drink and most of all, to chase women; infact his sexual appetites were stuff of legend. So who was Harding? He was the 29th president of United States. The question is why did he even become President? According to Harry Daugherty, “ He looked like a President”. Unfortunately he turned out to be a very incapable president. So decisions based primarily on looks are mostly misleading.
Human brains are however hardwired to appreciate beauty. There is enough evidence to show that attractive people get better treatment and are deemed as more lucky. NBC’s dateline conducted an experiment wherein they showed how almost always the more attractive people got better service and more people would go out of their way to help them.
So however shallow it might sound and however much we might like to deny , we are all influenced by looks.
Just do a simple experiment. Go to browse button in the Myspace website. When the page opens, watch out for the people whose profiles you would like to see. Very often it will be the people you find attractive. So even though beauty is only skin deep, it does leave a deep impression.


No comments: