Science News

To Look More Attractive, Stand Next To Less Good-Looking People, Study Says

Scene from the movie, "The Duff"

People who want to look more beautiful should stand next to less attractive friends, researchers from the Royal Holloway, University of London suggest in a new study.

According to the team, how others judge and perceive an individual’s level of attractiveness depends on how the individual is compared to his or her surroundings. The study’s findings throws former theories that a person’s perceived rate of attractiveness is static, instead stating that who someone surrounds themselves with impacts how good they look to others, Nature World News reports.

Dr. Nicholas Furl, one of the study authors from the university’s Department of Psychology, says in a press release, “Until now, it’s been understood that a person’s level of attractiveness is generally steady.” He gives an example.

If you saw a picture of George Clooney today, you would rate him as good-looking as you would tomorrow. However, this work demonstrates that the company we keep has an effect on how attractive we appear to others.

Furl further states that a person’s level of beauty has a profound effect on modern society, but how it is measured can still be considered a “grey area.” The study promotes the new concept that good looks are not fixed.

The researchers asked participants to rate different photos of faces on their own. Then the researchers placed two attractive faces alongside pictures of faces thought to be less attractive and asked the participants to rate them. Furl and the team observed that the presence of a “distractor,” or unattractive face, made the participants more critical of the attractive faces, but also made them rank the faces even more attractive than in the first round.

Furl says this means that the presence of a less attractive person may not only make an individual more attractive, but could also make people in a crowd “more choosey” or more particular in judgment. It also means that a face considered average can appear to be more attractive when surrounded by less attractive ones. He concludes that the results are not surprising, given how often the trop of judging characters based on who they appear with has been used in popular culture.

The study was published in Psychological Science.

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - Get Important Content Like This Delivered Directly To You

Get important content and more delivered to you once or twice a week.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.