The stereotypical "mean girl" may have been the most attractive person at your high school, but according to a new paper in Personality and Individual Differences, that effect doesn't carry over to the rest of life. Researchers in China found that a warm personality is one of the most important factors in perceived beauty. So, just be a good person if you want people to find you attractive!
Researchers divided 120 students at a Chinese university into three groups, and asked each to rate 60 female faces on attractiveness. The resulting scores were roughly the same across all three groups.
After two weeks, researchers showed asked the groups to rate the same faces again, but this time each group received different personality descriptors along with the images: one group saw positive traits (like "friendly" and "trustworthy"), one saw negative qualities (like "dishonest" and "mean"), and the third received no personality descriptors.
This time, the group that saw positive personality descriptors gave the highest attractiveness ratings to the photos, while the group with negative personality descriptors rated the photos less attractive than both the positive group and the control group did. In short, the students who were told they were looking at nice people thought they were more attractive than did the other students who thought they were looking at bad people.
Yan Zhang of Huazhong University in China, the lead author of the study, wrote:
We find that "what is good is beautiful," with personality reflecting desired traits as facial attractiveness. This phenomenon can also be called the "halo effect." We can thus presume that personality traits may contribute to judging facial attractiveness and that the personality traits desired in a person are reflected in facial preference.
We can give you all the beauty tips in the world — like why you shouldn't use conditioner or how to best prepare your face for makeup — but, as supported by this study, the bottom line is that the best way to be beautiful is to be kind.
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