In a study that will raise a lot of eyebrows but will also seem completely unsurprising to some, attractive people feel that life is more just than non-attractive people.
The study analyzed an unlikely connection between attractiveness and the belief in a just world, finding a strong correlation between the two.
“My primary area of research is the attractiveness stereotype, which refers to the human tendency to attribute positive traits to attractive people and negative traits to those deemed unattractive,” said R. Shane Westfall, a PhD student at University of Nevada, Las Vegas and corresponding author of the study.
“As I was reading more about the Just World Hypothesis for an unrelated topic, I noticed that the strongest endorsers of the hypothesis tend to be those favored by society. This led me to make a connection with my research, as more attractive individuals receive favorable treatment throughout their lives.”
As part of the study, 395 college students were asked to rate how much they agree with the following statements: “I feel that people get what they are entitled to have” and “I feel that people who meet with misfortune have brought it on themselves.”
Researchers found that students who were more attractive were significantly more likely to agree with the statements — both when their attractiveness was rated by peers, and when they self-rated. Additionally, both attractiveness measures were found to have a relationship with participant’s level of life satisfaction, researchers write.
It’s not the first time a study finds this type of result. Studies have consistently shown that belief in a just world is strongly correlated with societal privilege, and attractiveness is as straightforward as privilege goes.
As a major limitation of the study, researchers note that the participants were largely college-aged Americans. This carries on two consequences: first of all, participants were younger, and at an age where they place more importance on looks. Secondly, there are likely significant cultural differences associated with the view of a just world.
However, the findings strongly suggest that physical attractiveness, and more importantly, overall privilege, affects our opinion of the world and even our subjective experience as a human — and in a way, this makes a lot of sense. If the world treats us good, we think of it as a fair place. But if it doesn’t… well then it’s only normal that we don’t.
The study, “The Influence of Physical Attractiveness on Belief in a Just World“, was authored by R. Shane Westfall , Murray G. Millar, and Aileen Lovitt, and published in in the journal Psychological Reports.
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