Physically attractive people are more open-minded towards many behaviors relating to sexuality, according to a study published in Social Science Quarterly. The findings indicate that having more opportunities to engage in certain behaviors can influence one’s ethical standards.
“When tempting but morally suspect options become more readily available, people often downgrade previous moral objections,” wrote Robert Urbatsch of Iowa State University in his study.
The study examined data from the 2016 General Social Survey and the 1972 U.S. National Election Study. Both the large sociological survey are unusual, as they took the extra step of having the interviewers provide evaluations of the physical attractiveness of respondents.
Good-looking respondents were more likely to support premarital sex, gay sex, gay marriage, and abortion rights. But they were not any more tolerant of issues not related to sex, such as civil disobedience or marijuana legalization.
“These results support the hypothesis that greater opportunity to indulge in a behavior — as good looks typically provide for sexual activities — reduces the sense of moral stigma surrounding that activity,” Urbatsch said in his study.
But more attractive people were not more permissive in one regard. There was no statistically significant difference between attractive and unattractive people when it came to extramarital sex.
Urbatsch noted that it’s also possible that less attractive people tend to have less permissive views on sex-related behaviors. “In general, people tend to perceive situations when they receive less than others do as unfair and unjust, and want to constrain such inequality,” he wrote.
The study was titled: “Good Looks as a Source of Moral Permissiveness“.