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The Increasing Importance of Good Looks.

  1. Jul 11, 2011 #1
    I was rather less than surprised to find that over the decades both men and women have placed increasing importance on attractiveness when looking for a mate. You can download the report I read here:
    http://www.akst.com/Writings/Looks%20DO%20Matter.pdf [Broken]

    Just another thing to be sad about. Or maybe you think there's nothing wrong with that. Oh, I don't know! If you marry someone you'll eventually both be old and ugly so I suppose you'd like a little more than good looks for a good marriage; then again, if you want fit kids, marry a stunner, wait till the kids grow up then divorce each other. Hm.

    What do you think?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2011 #2
    I can't speak for others of course, but over the decades, I have placed increasing importance on attractiveness when looking for a mate. Just don't tell my wife OK?
  4. Jul 11, 2011 #3
    Err... that's not true. Assuming by average one means the arithmetic mean. IQ scores maybe, I don't know how they scale those, but in general it's not true.
  5. Jul 11, 2011 #4
    I think you're right. I would have expected 50% to be above average, not below.
  6. Jul 11, 2011 #5
    I realize you're joking but you're still confusing the average (which is the mean) and the median. I have 4 people, 3 of them have 1 marble, the last has 10 marbles. The average number of marbles per person is 13/4 = 3.5 and yet 75% percent of the population has a below average number of marbles. This would of course be a minor point if it wasn't being used to try an mock the intelligence of other people, in which case I think the universe demands that such a mistake be pointed out clearly and publicly ;)
  7. Jul 11, 2011 #6
    So either apostate82 was correct, or I was correct, or we were both correct.
  8. Jul 11, 2011 #7
    I think people are vastly more attracted to a potential mate's personality than they realize. Because they don't realize this is what's actually working on them, they are likely to rate a person as "physically attractive" when they may not actually be, by standards of symmetry and proportion.

    We are highly responsive to people's level of energy, their enthusiasm, positive attitude, sense of humor, confidence, dynamism. Someone with good scores on all those points is likely to get rated as having a hot appearance, when they don't necessarily.
  9. Jul 11, 2011 #8
    What? I can't tell if you're still joking. The probability of the average of a population sample being the same as its median is virtually non-existent for any real world data. Thus you're both wrong... since you were both saying the same thing...
  10. Jul 11, 2011 #9
    As for one or the other of us being right, if you can say that a millionaire has a dollar, then you can say that either 50% are below average or 50% are above average. In other words, when you say 50% are below average, you don't exclude the possibility that 51% are below average.

    As for both of us being right, in spite of your virtual non-existent statement, it is actually quite likely. For the statement was not 50.00000%, it was 50% and so must be taken to mean somewhere between 45% and 55%. Since there are 7 billion people or so, there are a great many distributions that would keep the mean that close to the median. That would be the case even if you restricted the meaning to the range 49.5% to 50.5%.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  11. Jul 11, 2011 #10
    Wow, you should consider entering the Tour de France with all that back-pedaling. You both made a simple confusion of terms/meanings which was only noteworthy because it was said while trying to insult other peoples intelligence (like when someone says "Wow, they don't speak english very good"). As for your back-pedaling in particular the reason why an average is often a poor metric is because it is extremely susceptible to outliers, exceptional bits of data. I've never seen a distribution of unscaled intelligence scores but I imagine outliers play a heavy role (both the brilliant and the mentally handicapped) and the ratio of outliers on either side of the mean is almost certainly not even (my money would be that mentally handicapped are far more common than those with exceptionally high intelligence). Thus, I would certainly not expect any metric of raw intelligence to be symmetric about the mean.
  12. Jul 11, 2011 #11
    I don't think it's looks as much as it is taking care of yourself. I think self-respect is the main thing. Are you fit? Clean? Clean-shaven? Do you smell nice, or at least not at all? Do you wear cloths that fit you/that aren't holy/stained?

    I think as long as you take care of yourself, that's the most important thing. I can't love someone I don't respect, and I can't respect someone who doesn't respect herself.

    It all comes down to self-respect. If you don't respect yourself/your body enough to keep it clean and fit, why should you expect anyone ELSE to respect you, much less love you?

    Think about most major turn-offs, most of them have to do with lack of self-respect:

    -Smoking/excessive drinking/hard drug usage
    -Cutting/self harm
    -Not standing up for yourself
    -Being unemployed/out of school/having a dead end job
    -Being extremely overweight
    -Being extremely underweight
    -Not being clean/hygienic

    Just take care of and respect yourself/your body. If you don't respect your body, don't expect anyone else to...
  13. Jul 12, 2011 #12
    So, what do you figure? 44%?

    They backpedal in the Tour de France?
  14. Jul 12, 2011 #13


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    I fail to see how studies like this can have much strength. There is no accurate way to measure attractiveness, it's so subjective and varied that generalisations just wont do. You can make a comprehensive study and ask thousands of people over years but there are still millions of people out there constantly interacting with each other. There's no way of measuring even the smallest percentage of interactions let alone trying to gauge if individuals are placing more emphasis on looks over anything else.

    Questionnaires are an incredibly weak method of ascertaining truth, people will answer that they think they should. These results are not indicative that looks are more important at all.
  15. Jul 12, 2011 #14
    To the extent people will answer what they think they should (which is very likely true, but how do you prove to a disbelieving third party this is what's actually happening?), then a study like this would, at least, be a useful indicator of the current meme.

    In the 1930's, apparently, the notion people taught each other to repeat was something to the effect of: Don't judge a book by its cover. Today it seems to be the opposite, a sort of McLuhan-esque: The cover is the book.

    If this is the current meme, then wouldn't it also be true that, to be socially acceptable, people will date others for whom it will be easier to make the case that they fit some "objective" criteria for attractiveness? In other words, if everyone is taught to say looks are important, doesn't that cause their importance?
  16. Jul 15, 2011 #15


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    Sounds like an idea to me. For crying out loud, by time the kids are grown, surely the two of you need something different in life, anyway. People live into their 70's and 80's. Do you really want to spend another 25 to 40 years with that person?!

    But good looks are subjective. A look that suggest they know nothing at all about life looks sexy to someone that doesn't know anything about life themselves. A look that suggests they've learned something about life looks a lot sexier if you don't want to get stuck babysitting someone.
  17. Jul 19, 2011 #16
    In the 1930's the wife relied on the mans income while the man relied on the womans ability to cook and clean. Today it is just personal attractiveness left, so of course good looks gets more important since it is a big part in how attractive someone is perceived to be.
  18. Jul 20, 2011 #17
    Thats right....in those days women were subjected to men and needed them, men had the power. Now the tables have turned and women are very independant and dont need men to be happy :eek:.

    In the process, the average joe hasnt learned how to woo the average mary and the average mary is still holding on the romantic idea of the 'boy approaches the girl chat her up' kinda thing despite her increased confidence and independance....Hence the deadlock....and the huge number of singles out there in the world.

    I wonder what the stats are in terms of the number of couples/singles for a given age group?
  19. Jul 20, 2011 #18


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    I strongly disagree with this. The notion that a 1930's man might look at a woman and think "not attractive but she can cook!" is ludicrous as is the notion that nowadays because we have equal rights "it is just personal attractiveness left". How about how well you work together as a team? How a partner is someone who will help you through things? And don't you think your taking a very http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heteronormativity" [Broken] view on this?

    I don't get this at all. You seem to be suggesting that an increasing number of men cannot talk to women, not to mention your gross misportrayal of the "average woman" who sits daintily waiting for a man. Get real!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  20. Jul 20, 2011 #19
    Since heterosexuals vastly outnumbers the others any survey would be mostly influenced by their picks. Also I didn't say that people are just out for looks today, how well you work as a team is also a part of personal attraction.

    And no, I did the rational thing of looking at what is different between 1930 and 1970. A major difference is how women got out of the household, so I hypothesize that it would be the major reason for the change in peoples opinions. It is expected that as other factors diminish looks would get more important so I conclude that my hypothesis holds for that argument.

    Now, can you please stop assuming that I talked in absolutes and instead understand that when people talk about statistical data they almost always talk about statistical differences. Like if I say that women are better at languages I don't mean that all women are better than all men at it but that on average they are better. The 1930's man probably didn't think like that, no, but he most likely valued cooking higher than the average modern man would.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Jul 20, 2011 #20


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    So everything not physical is still part of personal attraction but cooking is somehow different :uhh:

    You have nothing to demonstrate that your hypothesis is true. The idea that because one factor goes down others must increase in importance is unsubstantiated. Things can become a non-issue without raising the importance of anything else.

    I see no reason to agree with this considering you have actually demonstrated any statistics at all.
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