A new study has found that the more attractive a man is, the more likely he is to be selfish.
The research by a team from Brunel University London tested a theory from evolutionary psychology that because attractive people tend to prevail in competitions for social status, they have more to gain from perpetuating inequality in society.
However, the study showed no such link where women were concerned.
“We found that attractive men tended to be less egalitarian and less generous. But that wasn’t the case with attractive women,” explained lead investigator and senior lecturer in psychology at Brunel University London, Dr Michael Price.
The team used a 3D body scanner to measure 125 male and female participants’ bodies, and scored them on standard attractiveness measures such as slimness, waist-to-chest ratio for men, and waist-to-hip ratio for women.
The participants also filled out a personality questionnaire which measured their behaviour and attitudes about inequality and selfishness, and they took part in an economics experiment in which they were given money and asked to decide how much to share with someone else.
The psychologists then asked a group of raters to judge the 125 scanned body images for attractiveness, and a second group of raters to judge how altruistic and egalitarian they thought the people in the images would be in real life.
Dr Price said: “We found that the ‘raters’ perceived better-looking men and women as being less altruistic and egalitarian.
“Our results showed that in fact we may be justified in expecting more attractive men to behave in ways that are less favourable to economic and social equality,” he said.
“The results suggest that better-looking men may be biased towards being more selfish and less egalitarian.”
But Dr Price thinks that this bias can be overcome. He said: “The best way to help people overcome a bias is to make them more conscious that they have it.”
He added: “The correlation between attractiveness and selfishness was nowhere close to being perfect, and many very attractive men will also be very altruistic and egalitarian.”
The study adds a new perspective on why some men may be more selfish than others.
“Several studies have suggested that wealthier people tend to care less about kindness
and equality,” Dr Price added. “But our study suggests that attractiveness is at least as important as wealth in influencing these attitudes.”
The article, “Bodily Attractiveness and Egalitarianism are Negatively Related in Males” by Michael Price, Stuart Brown, Amber Dukes and Jinsheng Kang is published here.