September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Individual differences in attractiveness perception predict social inferences, but not all altruistic desires
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Glenn Rose
    Department of Psychology, University of Richmond
  • Edwin J Burns
    Department of Psychology, University of Richmond
  • Cindy Bukach
    Department of Psychology, University of Richmond
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 157. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.157
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      Glenn Rose, Edwin J Burns, Cindy Bukach; Individual differences in attractiveness perception predict social inferences, but not all altruistic desires. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):157. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.157.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Attractive faces are perceived to be more extraverted, healthy, trustworthy, intelligent and are more likely to obtain altruistic behaviours from others. We therefore wondered if individual differences in attractiveness perception could also interlink these cues; if I find everyone attractive, am I a more helpful person? We tested this hypothesis across a series of tasks where 29 student participants had to report their perceptions of attractiveness, intelligence, trustworthiness, health, extraversion, employability, parenting skills, and altruistic motivations for a series of faces. We replicated prior work in finding attractive faces were rated more positively on social traits and were more likely to elicit altruistic desires. However, while individual differences in attractiveness perception predicted all social trait appraisals (intelligence, r = .34, p = .036; extraversion, r = .65, p < .001; trustworthiness, r = .76, p < .001, health, r = .34, p = .036, parenting skills, r = .57, p < .001), this was not always the case for prosocial motivations. For example, participants who perceived faces as more attractive expressed a greater willingness to pick up hitchhikers (r = .49, p = .003) and give people money (r = .32, p = .048), but had no preference to employ people (r = .16, p = .25) or provide them with help (r = .25, p = .1). While these latter two prosocial behaviour dimensions strongly correlated with one another (r = .72, p < .001), none of our other individual measures could explain their relationship. Our findings suggest individual differences in attractiveness perception contribute to social trait appraisals and some, but not all, feelings of altruistic motivation.

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