The physical attractiveness stereotype
is a term that psychologists
use to refer to the tendency to assume that people who are physically attractive
also possess other socially desirable personality traits.
Many studies have found that people tend to think that more attractive people are also happier, outgoing, successful, kinder and have many other positive traits. In less-individualistic cultures beautiful people are assumed to have traits that those cultures value, such as concern for others, loyalty and integrity.
The stereotype acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy where the perception of attractive people as more valuable members of society leads to their receiving preferential treatment, positive feedback and tangible benefit. Studies have found that attractiveness does correlate positively with some traits such as personal income, social skills and self-confidence.
This cognitive bias could be considered to be a specific kind of halo effect.
- Eagly, A. H., Ashmore, R. D., Makhijani, M. G. & Longo, L. C. (1991). What is beautiful is good, but...: a meta-analytic review of research on the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 109-128.
- Wheeler, L. & Kim, Y. (1997). What is beautiful is culturally good: The physical attractiveness stereotype has different content in collectivist cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 795-800.