Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Blinded by BEAUTY

It's an axiom of evolutionary psychology that beautiful people are healthier too. New evidence suggests that that's a lovely fiction. In fact, beauty may actually blind us to the real state of physical health.

S. Michael Kalick, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts, set out to look for truth in beauty. He asked 32 judges to rate the attractiveness of 333 faces by photograph. Then he compared the ratings with the actual, indisputable health records of the people pictured. Kalick found that the ones judged attractive were no healthier than their homelier peers. Kalick then had a second group look at the photographs, this time to indicate which people they thought were physically healthy. The raters' guesses were surprisingly accurate--except when the face was especially good-looking or especially ugly.

Attractive faces were almost always labeled healthy, while unattractive ones were usually thought to be unhealthy. This was so, even when there seemed to be other, more trustworthy cues to the contrary

Though Kalick isn't sure how they do it, it seems that people do know how to judge health from appearance--but they ignore this knowledge when presented with faces that fall at either extreme of attractiveness.

Biologically justified or not, beauty will remain important in picking a mate.

Taken from Health news