If you’re someone who wants to be more physically attractive but doesn’t have a lot of time or money to devote to it, you’re in luck. Research shows that instead of looking to pills, potions, and makeup to beautify yourself, you should be focusing on developing your personality.
A study by Kniffin and associates explored this issue in three ways.
First, they asked participants to rate pictures of their high school classmates according to four variables: familiarity, liking, respect, and physical attractiveness. Then, strangers were asked to rate the same pictures for physical attractiveness.
The researchers reasoned that if looks were the only factor that played a role in our assessments of others’ attractiveness, then the ratings by classmates and strangers should be about the same. This was not the case, however, as the data showed that physical attractiveness was particularly influenced by liking and respecting the person being rated. In other words, the more the participant liked and respected the person in the picture, the more likely their ratings were higher than the strangers.
In their second study, the researchers asked male and female members of a rowing team to rate each other on talent, effort, respect, liking, and physical attractiveness. Then, using the same methodology from the previous study, they had strangers rate how physically attractive they found the athletes. Again, likability and respect had a greater influence on how the participants rated one another’s attractiveness than did physical characteristics (as assessed by a stranger).
In addition, perceived talent played a role in how they were rated (e.g. a slacker was perceived as much less physically attractive than someone who was hard-working, even though the strangers did not perceive this difference in attractiveness).
In the final study, the researchers had students in a 6-week archeological experience rate each other at the beginning of the program, in the middle, and at the end. In this instance, they rated each other on familiarity, intelligence, effort, liking, and physical attractiveness. (For intelligence, effort, and liking, they made predictions about how smart, hard-working, and likable they perceived the person to be since they didn’t know them well enough to make informed ratings).
As was the case with the other studies, likability played an important role in how attractive they were rated to be at the end of the study. In fact, ratings of physical attractiveness changed for better or worse, depending on how likable people in the class proved to be across time.
The takeaway? To be perceived as more physically attractive, work on being likable and respected. Wondering how to accomplish this? Read on for some simple strategies to get you moving in the right direction:
Be upbeat – The stereotype of the person who is annoyingly nice is a myth. People are drawn to happy and positive people. To be seen as more likable, cultivate a positive outlook and give others the benefit of the doubt.
– Genuine smiling will help you to be seen as more likable. Why? When you smile, it encourages others to do the same. And, smiling creates a chain reaction in our bodies that boosts our moods. So, when you smile, people will literally be put in a better mood in your presence.
Listen with interest
– Everybody wants to be valued, and when you show a sincere interest in the other person, it is a validating experience. So, engage in active listening. And, when the other person shares something positive with you, be sure to reinforce them and ask questions.
Be a little vulnerable
– When we share a personal secret or are a little vulnerable with others, they are more likely to trust us. So experiment with self-disclosing, and enjoy deeper connections with others.
Try out these approaches and watch your relationships (and your perceived physical attractiveness) bloom!