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Title:Is beautiful actually good? Divergent paths from attractiveness to moral judgments
Author(s):Han, Da Eun
Advisor(s):Laurent, Sean M.
Contributor(s):Albarracin, Dolores
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):social cognition
person perception
beautiful-is-good stereotype
Abstract:For almost 50 years, psychologists have understood that what is beautiful is also good. This simple hypothesis has been confirmed in a large number of ways, and the intuitive appeal of the idea has led to a wide range of studies documenting the depth and breadth of its truth. Yet, in some ways, for what is arguably one of the most important forms of “goodness” that there is—morality—research has told a different story. Specifically, although greater attractiveness is associated with a host of other perceived and positive attributes, it has been only inconsistently associated with greater morality (or lesser immorality), and meta-analyses on the topic have suggested the total effect is near zero. The current research documents one reason why this is, given the attribution of so many other positive attributes to the attractive. Specifically, across nine experiments that employ a variety of methodological and measurement strategies, we show first that attractiveness causally leads to perception of vanity, which translates into perception of lesser morality/greater immorality. Then, we document how attractiveness is also associated with perception of greater sociability—the non-moral component of warmth—and show how sociability exerts a countervailing effect on moral judgments. Ultimately, this work provides a comprehensive process account of why beautiful is good, but is not necessarily moral, highlighting the complex interrelations between different elements of person perception.
Issue Date:2021-04-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Da Eun Han
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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