Beauty- In the Mind Of the Beholder?

[ By on December 18, 2014 ]

This article discusses the psychological responses of men and women to attractive and “unattractive” people.  This article from the Association of Psychological Science discusses the way in which attraction, beauty, face perception, physical appearance, sex differences, and social psychology play a role in how women and men view themselves.  For example, a cited study in the article reads, “When participants in a recent study were presented with attractive and unattractive faces for only 13 milliseconds, they were able to judge the faces’ attractiveness accurately (that is, in accordance with experimenters’ ratings), even though they were not consciously aware of the stimuli and felt like they were just guessing (Olson & Marshuetz, 2005).”  However, there is a scientific aspect of this, too.  It reads, “Our faces are sculpted by our hormones. These sex-typical facial features of adult men and women reflect the ratio of testosterone to estrogen or estrogen to testosterone, respectively, acting on the individual during development. We are programmed to be drawn to strong indicators of maleness (for women) and femaleness (for men) partly because they reflect an individual’s health (Fink & Penton-Voak, 2002).” Although this hints at a scientific explanation of attraction, I wonder what psychological effect this has on women and men.  For example, I was curious of the effect of makeup on women.  According to the article, makeup does have a strong effect.  “In one study, women wearing makeup were approached more, and approached faster, by men at a bar than they were on nights without makeup (Gueguen, 2008b). Effect sizes on beauty judgments for makeup have been found to be as high as those for the facial structural features mentioned earlier (Osborn, 2006).”  Although I am not yet sure what exactly I want to question, I do wonder about a couple of things… First, in (partially) knowing the psychology behind first-hand judgements, is it probable to assume such judgements can be controlled? Secondly, is what exactly is the moral dilemma I should try to uncover?  Lastly, should I try to discover more on “beauty” regarding women, or should I try to research the psychological effects of something like a uniform on young women?

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One Comment on “Beauty- In the Mind Of the Beholder?”

  1. kaylawaterman

    Great topic! I am interested in the question of whether these unconscious preferences are developed in childhood and whether they are informed by culture. The moral dilemma that I see is whether people in positions of power, such as those who do the hiring at an organization, have a responsibility to try to control for this bias. I am thinking of the shift in orchestra auditions where they started putting up a screen and doing the auditions live but blind, to control for bias against women musicians. What might be the equivalent to control for bias against “unattractive” people in hiring?

Hi Stranger, reply with your thoughts:

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