People with a more socially effective personality tend to also be more physically attractive, according to new research published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology.
“We are very interested in the general factor of personality or GFP. The GFP is the shared variance among personality traits and we believe it represents individual differences in social-effectiveness (i.e., the ability to achieve social goals),” explained study author Curtis S. Dunkel of Western Illinois University.
The general factor of personality — also known as the “Big One” personality trait — describes the fact that individuals who possess one desirable trait are more likely to also possess other more desirable traits. A person with a high GFP, for example, would be low in neuroticism but high in both conscientious and agreeableness.
“In this study we tested the idea that the GFP would be positively correlated with physical attractiveness (self-rated and rater-based). The association with the rater-based measure was especially important because it related to an idea we had that the GFP/physical attractiveness association may be driven by mutation load.”
For their study, the researchers analyzed data from 5,026 individuals who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health.
“The average person may take away from the study that there is a positive correlation between having what we often refer to as a ‘good’ personality and physical attractiveness,” Dunkel said. “Additionally, it appears that this association, at least for our sample, was entirely a function of genes.”
But Dunkel noted there were several important caveats in the study.
“First, the relationship between the GFP and physical attractiveness was weak. That is while the GFP and physical attractiveness appear to overlap, the overlap is slight,” he told PsyPost.
“Second, there are several possible reasons why such an overlap exists. While analyses showed the association was due to genes, the dynamics behind the association are still unknown; the ‘why’ question behind the association needs to be addressed,” Dunkel explained.
“We would like to reiterate that while there is a positive association between the GFP and physical attractiveness (people with a socially effective personality are more physically attractive) that most of the differences between people on the two traits are unrelated.”
The study, “Physical Attractiveness and the General Factor of Personality“, was also co-authored by Joseph L. Nedelec, Dimitri van der Linden and Riley L. Marshall.