A new study has found that the more attractive a man’s body is, the more likely he is to have attitudes that promote selfishness and inequality.
The research by a team from Brunel University London tested a theory from evolutionary psychology that because attractive people tend to prevail in competitions for social status, they generally have more to gain from perpetuating inequality in society.
The team used a 3D body-scanner to obtain measurements of 125 male and female participants’ bodies, and scored them on standard attractiveness measures such as slimness, waist-to-chest ratio for men, and waist-to-hip ratio for women.
The participants also filled out a personality questionnaire which measured their behaviour and attitudes about inequality and selfishness, and they took part in an economics experiment in which they received real money and decided how much to share with someone else.
“We found that attractive men tended to be less egalitarian and less generous,” explained lead investigator Dr Michael Price. “But that wasn’t the case with attractive women.”
The psychologists then asked a group of raters to judge the 125 scanned body images for attractiveness, and a second group of raters to judge how altruistic and egalitarian they thought the people in the images would be in real life.
“We found that the ‘raters’ perceived better-looking men and women as being less altruistic and egalitarian,” said Dr Price.
“Our results showed that in fact we may be justified in expecting more attractive men to behave in ways that are less favourable to economic and social equality,” he said.
“The results suggest that better-looking men may be biased towards being more selfish and less egalitarian.”
But he thinks that this bias can be overcome: “the best way to help people overcome a bias is to make them more conscious that they have it.”
He added, “The correlation between attractiveness and selfishness was nowhere close to being perfect, and many very attractive men will also be very altruistic and egalitarian.”
The study adds a new perspective on why some men may be more selfish than others. “Several studies have suggested that wealthier people tend to care less about kindness and equality,” Price explained, “but our study suggests that attractiveness is at least as important as wealth in influencing these attitudes.”