Beautiful People Are Happier: Study
Beautiful people are generally happier and make more money than unattractive people, according to a study published online today.
In an analysis of five large surveys conducted over the last 40 years in four countries, economists at the University of Texas-Austin found that the largest contributor to an attractive person's extra happiness was the economic benefit he or she often experienced as a result.
"The majority of beauty's effect on happiness works through its impact on economic outcomes," said lead author Daniel Hamermesh, a long-time student of attractiveness. This and earlier studies conducted by Mr. Hamermesh have shown that physically attractive people earn more and marry people who also earn more.
In the new study, participants were asked to rate their own happiness, while their attractiveness was rated by interviewers. Those who were ranked in the top 15 percent in looks reported being 10 percent happier than those who were ranked in the bottom 10 percent.
To Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University who studies well-being, these findings are no surprise.
"Think about it as a gateway to getting what you want from life job intereviews, first dates, making those initial impressions, persuading and influencing other people," he says. "Attractiveness gives that slight edge. They're getting the benefit of the doubt at first sight, and unattractive people aren't."
Overall, women's attractiveness affected their happiness more than men's.
Experts caution, however, against buying into a lot of products said to enhance one's looks.
"One way people might take that finding is to go out and start chasing attractiveness," said Richard Ryan of the University of Rochester in New York. "I would caution them, because research shows people who are chasing attractiveness are more unhappy."