Men who exhibit positive character traits, such as honesty and helpfulness, are perceived as better looking by the opposite sex, a study has found. The research, in Personal Relationships, examines the way in which perceptions of physical attractiveness are influenced by personality.
Subjects in the study viewed photographs of opposite-sex individuals and rated them for attractiveness before and after being provided with information on personality traits. After personality information was received, participants also rated the desirability of each individual as a friend and as a dating partner. The information on personality was found to significantly alter perceived desirability or attractiveness.
"Perceiving a person as having a desirable personality makes the person more suitable in general as a close relationship partner of any kind," says study author Gary W. Lewandowski. "The findings show that a positive personality leads to greater desirability as a friend, which leads to greater desirability as a romantic partner and, ultimately, to being viewed as more physically attractive."
Those who exhibited negative traits, such as unfairness and rudeness, appeared to be less physically attractive to observers. Interestingly, the findings remained consistent regardless of how "attractive" the individual was initially perceived to be or of the participants' current relationship status or commitment level with a partner.
According to the researchers, the study shows that perceptions of a person's physical attractiveness may change over time due to their positive or negative traits. "This research provides a more positive alternative by reminding people that personality goes a long way toward determining your attractiveness; it can even change people's impressions of how good looking you are," concluded Lewandowski.
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Source: Personal Relationships