Why do prettier people have it easier in life?

So let’s start with the premise that pretty people tend to be treated better in society. Does anyone know why? I’ve read studies and articles making the claim that pretty people are treated better, although I’d rather not include cites because I don’t want this to turn into a discussion about the merits and shortcomings of a particular study or article. I’ve also found this to be true through personal experience.

But the only reason I can come up with is just that looking at something pleasant puts you in a better mood. I guess it’s like how a nicely decorated living room is homier than a barren one, or certain fonts and colors on food packaging stimulate our appetite.

And yeah, sometimes men will be treating a woman nicely because he’s trying to sleep with her, but I think the beauty phenomenon is way more widespread than just in circumstances where there’s a possibility of ending up sleeping together.

Does anyone else have an idea as to WHY beautiful people are often treated better?

Beauty fascinates. To be physically close to ‘physical perfection’ is mesmerising.

And maybe there’s some kind of primal belief that something good will happen to you having bathed in the illumination of a god/dess.

I suspect that the odds of sex actually happening don’t really make a difference to some people. But beyond that…

I would say that many people have the idea (perhaps not even consciously) that physical attractiveness = “goodness”. I don’t know whether there is a natural tendency to assume that positive traits go together or whether this is due to centuries of fiction where beautiful = good and ugly = bad. I’d guess it’s some of both.

I’m a rather attractive female by Western society’s standards (90% of it’s genes, 10% hygiene and good clothes), and I definitely get better service that most. In fact, I can tell when I’m only getting average service, when I’m not offered extra or the waiter doesn’t crack a joke or rush my order.

In my case, though, I think charisma’s a large part of it. I’m aware that I’m attractive, and this makes me more confident. I smile a lot, and I make an effort to engage strangers (particularly servers/cashiers/etc.) in small talk. Sometimes this means I come off as a crazy person, but a lot of the time people are happy to comment on the weather, or offer up a story. I think folks tend to equate “pretty” with “nice person,” and feel validated when this turns out to be the case.

It stands to reason that we see other humans as “pretty” because we’re wired to be attracted to them for whatever biological reason. So it follows that we’d want to treat them better or go out of our way to assist them because our brains think they’re superior to the person next to them.

Same reason why we find children cute. It helps drive our need to care for/protect them and keep them from being eaten by wolves.

I can only speak for men, but I think a lot of men also have that tiny voice in the back of their head whispering, “Give her extra attention. You may get a chance with her.”

Probably trustworthiness.

If I see a pretty person it probably means that they take care of themselves and look nice, which means they at least care about how they look and probably care about whatever it is they’re doing.

If I see fat slob walking around I assume that he’s probably given up on a lot of things and I don’t trust him

There’s a difference between being well groomed and being pretty, though. No one looks their best if they’re dirty, badly dressed, etc., but some people aren’t that pretty even when well groomed. Here’s a picture of Ron Perlman where he looks clean and seems to be dressed neatly, but that doesn’t change the fact that he does not have conventionally attractive facial features. I don’t think he looks mean or untrustworthy in that photo, but I wouldn’t describe him as handsome.

Other than the obvious bilogical drivers, which has already mentioned. Being pretty doesn’t actually require you to “do” anything, other than be pretty.

If you have to get by on your wits or intelligence, you have to actually work. You need to think of great ideas and invent things and work with all sorts of technical stuff that you need to study for years in order to be treated as a person of value.

Being pretty, you just have to smile a lot.

I believe it has a lot to do with sexual attractiveness, but not overtly so (e.g. I might have a chance of getting with them) but just the way that our species is more subconciously attracted to physical characteristics than others.

I would say it’s the halo effect. When you have one characteristic about someone and generalize it to other areas. So someone is good looking and we tend to think s/he is smarter, more responsible etc… The same way that teachers tend to perceive the kid with good grades as better behaved than the one worth bad ones, even if they actually behave the same.

**Why do prettier people have it easier in life? **

Because they’re prettier. It means they’re attractive, that they are liked by other people at first sight alone. It’s pretty basic.

Totally unsupported WAG:

We’re trained by TV, movies, etc. to distinguish between good and bad people. The good guys are usually portrayed as having a pleasant personality and are played by the more attractive actors/actresses.

Because of this, we unconsciously give more chances to a person who is pretty and pleasant.

I’m pretty sure this phenomena has been going on long before the introduction of movies and television.

I think it’s just the opposite: Movies depict good guys as being attractive and bad guys as unattractive because we naturally stereotype people that way. In ways that other posts in this thread describe.

Agreed. There was a time when survival depended on being able to distinguish between “good” and “bad” people (or rather, threats and non-threats).

I think it is an evolutionary, hard-wired sexual response. You may not, on a conscious, rational level, think you have a shot with the great-looking guy/girl, but you still want one, so you will attempt to be pleasing to him/her. “Good looks” are an indication of health (clear skin/eyes, good posture, etc.), and therefore an indication of good genes and the ability to “procreate well” for lack of a better term. These behaviors developed over thousands of years to ensure the continuation of the species, so it’s awfully hard not to fall into those habits now. There’s very little rational about this. No one is thinking “The pretty person can get me a job,” or even “I might have a chance of making babies with the pretty person.” This behavior will carry through even if you’re not looking for a partner, or not looking to procreate.

To a certain extent, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, too. Good looking people have more social power because most people treat them deferentially; and people treat them deferentially because they’re aware that this person has more social power (and wish for some of it to rub off on themselves).

Because pretty people are special, and when they walk past me or talk to me, I feel special too. I’m a hetero female, so it doesn’t have anything to do with sexual attractiveness when it’s a pretty girl. But I still feel that little oomph of, “That chick was gorgeous!” *Everyone *prefers to look at pretty people, and I don’t think you can explain why. You can try to twist some evo-psych bullshit into an explanation, but does it even really matter? I like to look at attractive people because they look attractive. It makes me feel good. When I look at an unattractive person, I feel a small involuntary twinge of pity (whether they’re obese or have a disfiguring birth defect or just an unfortunate face). That’s just how people are.

I mean, anyone who says they would rather look at this person than this person is lying, and we all know it.

There are other reasons as well.

Since I became a manager I noticed how others behave in a managerial sense.

It really does appear that ‘pretty’ people are thought of as more competent then they actually are. Therefore they are promoted faster. I have also noticed that attractive people, when they make mistakes, are more likely to be forgiven completely or get a slap on the wrist whereas less attractive people have had the boom lowered on them for equivalent mistakes.

It is especially telling in my current company as we have many offices and don’t have video conferencing so many times I can work with someone for years and not know what they look like.

There was one woman who worked in a larger offices who tended to call me and 2 other colleagues to do projects when she had 2 people from my division in her local office. She was competent & nice. I once asked her ‘Why me/us instead of your local guys?’. She responded that it was easier to work with us/we gave her better ‘stuff’. When I asked a local person about her, she said this person was an idiot/incompetent and belligerent. Not my impression at all.

Finally, one day I was to visit the office and she was there. OOOHHHHHHyikes. She was…NOT attractive. Not attractive at all. However, she seemed the same to me personality and competence-wise. I couldn’t help but wonder if her…uhem, extreme unattractiveness contributed to the perception of incompetence.

I started looking around at who was calling who in my division. Basically sent a questionnaire out to people during evaluations to ask who was their favorite person in my division to contact. I noticed a strong tendency for unattractive/obesely fat people to have their favorite person be outside their local office whereas the ones that looked attractive tended to overwhelming pick their local person.

Relatively recently I promoted one of my peeps and was challenged by this from my boss as to why I didn’t pick the other possible one. To me it was a slam dunk. The person I picked had more experience and was more competent at this time. My boss disagreed but deferred to my judgment. I couldn’t help but noticing that the person I didn’t pick was VERY attractive whereas the person I picked, while not ugly or anything, was definitely not a hunk.