Beautiful people tend to believe that life is fundamentally fair and just, according to new research conducted with college students.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Reports, examined the relationship between physical attractiveness and belief in a just world, meaning the belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get.
“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.”
Two studies of 395 college students found that people who were more physically attractive were more likely to agree with statements such as “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.”
This was true both when the participants rated their own attractiveness and when the attractiveness of the participants was rated by their peers.
“As humans, we often want to compartmentalize various aspects of our self,” Westfall explained to PsyPost. “This work helps to crystallize the message that our perception of the world is influenced by factors that we would tend to discount as tangential.”
“Our personal beliefs and values are often simply a reflections of the stimuli that we’ve been exposed to, rather than representations of well thought out positions. In the case of this study, our conceptualization of justice may simply reflect our own privilege.”
The study has some limitations, particularly in regards to its sample of participants.
“The participants in this study were largely college-aged Americans,” Westfall said. “There is work finding cultural differences when looking at the just-world hypothesis, so perhaps this relationship would be different in other areas. More importantly, the participants were at an age where appearance is both very important and salient. One important area for future work is to see if this relationship changes as people age.”
“Although our appearance is largely beyond our personal control, this work adds to the literature demonstrating the profound influence it has on our daily lives,” he added.
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.