What is good is not beautiful but fixed?! Face preference in desired personality traits.

Figure 1. Justice

Figure 1. Jatherip. (2009). Justice

In recent weeks we have discussed societies portrayed idea that, beauty is equal to success as we research our viewpoint in our recent essay “Ugly people deserve to fail”. With this assumption in mind, I have decided to investigate this form of research to determine whether researchers are observing any specific criteria themselves; if they have any biases towards participants tested, also trying to discover any other influential factors which may be present when selecting a sexual partner; rather than just on Beauty alone.

After reading the study What is good is beautiful: Face preference reflects desired personality” (Little, Burt & Perrett, 2006). I was automatically alerted to the specific angle, in which researchers were aiming their study to reflect results they were aiming to achieve. I say this, because it is clear Little, Burt & Perrett, (2006), believed in Buss & Schmidt (1993) previous research, whereas it was stated, youth; to men, was a sign of attractiveness from their belief, youthfulness interprets health, and the woman’s increased ability to bear a child. However, Little, Burt & Perrett, (2006) had mistakenly generalised this assumption towards females as well, when Buss & Schmitt, (1993) had previously stated that females were more attracted to status, financial stability, physical strength and the protection from other non-mated males.

In part of the study 26 males and 27 females with a mean age of 24 years old, were shown images of magazines photographs, those which had been specifically selected without glasses or piercings. The studies resources (i.e. Magazine photographs) lacked diversity within participant’s age and ethnic origins, selecting young white adults instead; does this assume young white adults are the only attractive people? We know this not to be true, so other ethnicities should have been joint factors within this experiment.

Along side this, we could suggest these magazine pictures do not hold ecological validity; these pictures are notorious for their distorted, airbrushed inaccuracies of the actual person, whereas these enhancements are quite rare in the real world, so cannot be generalised.

I can only imagine these imagines were specifically chosen, due to their stereotype appearance of beauty, but one which could be more accurately measured.

I liked that researchers were more focused on faces, and discriminated other influences such as hair colour, but the way in which the experiment was conducted raises issues in particular to sexual preference. Participants had completed questionnaires to select their own preferred personality traits in a person; such as; sexiness, warmth, assertiveness, competitiveness, easy-going nature, extraversion, maturity, relaxed nature, scatter-brained nature and responsibility, but failed to ask what gender preference they also preferred, instead assuming that all male participants preferred woman and visa versa.

In conclusion, I believe the idea of the study was interesting, but the way in which the data was collected could be significantly improved. Variations in both age and ethnicity, and perhaps the tools used to measure beauty could have been more prominent in explaining their use.


Buss, D. M., & Schmidt, D. (1993). Sexual Strategies Theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100, 204–232.

Little, L.C., Burt, D.M., & Perrett, D.I. (2006). What is good is beautiful: Face preference reflects desired personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 41 (pp. 1107–1118). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com

Figure 1.  Jatherip. (2009). Justice, [painting], Concept Art.org Forums. Retrieved from http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=151611


One thought on “What is good is not beautiful but fixed?! Face preference in desired personality traits.

  1. This is an interesting blog, however your point that the study lacked “diversity within participant’s age and ethnic origins” is out of content. The part of the study you describe is only one step of the procedure and meant to group the pictures according to the different personality traits in order to combine individual images and produce composites. Therefor, a wide range of age and ethnic origins would bias the outcome in this case (Benson, & Perrett, 1992).
    I do not think that they had mistakenly generalized Buss& Schmidt. In fact, they cooperate with Buss and Schmidt by turning the original sentence “what is beautiful is good” around, making it “what is good is beautiful”. Therefore, rich men can be viewed as beautiful by female, as well as people with the desired personality trait are regarded as beautiful.

    Benson, P, Perrett, D. (1992). Face to face with the perfect image. New Scientist, 1809, 32–35.

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