Physical attractiveness predicts endorsement of specific evolutionary psychology principles

PLoS One. 2021 Aug 4;16(8):e0254725. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0254725. eCollection 2021.


Evolutionary psychology has emerged as a controversial discipline, particularly with regard to its claims concerning the biological basis of sex differences in human mate preferences. Drawing on theories of motivated inference, we hypothesized that those who are most likely to be privileged by specific aspects of the theory would be most likely to support the theory. In particular, we predicted that physical attractiveness would be positively associated with endorsement of predictions of evolutionary psychology concerning mating strategies. Two studies confirmed this hypothesis. In Study 1, participants rated as higher in physical attractiveness were more likely to support specific principles of evolutionary psychology. In Study 2, a manipulation designed to boost self-perceived physical attractiveness increased endorsement of those same principles. Observer-rated physical attractiveness generally predicted individuals' support of the theoretical principles better than did gender, political orientation, or self-esteem. Results suggest that those most likely to benefit according to certain predictions of evolutionary psychology are also those most likely to be sympathetic toward its relevant principles.

MeSH terms

  • Beauty*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychology*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.