What is beautiful is good and more accurately understood. Physical attractiveness and accuracy in first impressions of personality

Psychol Sci. 2010 Dec;21(12):1777-82. doi: 10.1177/0956797610388048. Epub 2010 Nov 4.


Beautiful people are seen more positively than others, but are they also seen more accurately? In a round-robin design in which previously unacquainted individuals met for 3 min, results were consistent with the "beautiful is good" stereotype: More physically attractive individuals were viewed with greater normative accuracy; that is, they were viewed more in line with the highly desirable normative profile. Notably, more physically attractive targets were viewed more in line with their unique self-reported personality traits, that is, with greater distinctive accuracy. Further analyses revealed that both positivity and accuracy were to some extent in the eye of the beholder: Perceivers' idiosyncratic impressions of a target's attractiveness were also positively related to the positivity and accuracy of impressions. Overall, people do judge a book by its cover, but a beautiful cover prompts a closer reading, leading more physically attractive people to be seen both more positively and more accurately.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beauty*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Social Perception
  • Stereotyping
  • Young Adult