Everyone loves a pretty face
• The good looking have all the breaks, apparently
• Tests reveal that babies respond to glamour
"There’s no doubt that attractive people tend to do better in life than less-attractive people - nobody ever said evolution was supposed to be fair." - - Dr Alan Slater
Story in full GOOD-looking boys and girls have a much bigger advantage in life than previously realised - because we are all genetically programmed to love a pretty face.
Scientific tests with new-born babies have revealed that they have an instinctive fascination for men and women who look like Hollywood film stars - and an in-built prejudice against more "ordinary"-looking adults.
Babies of both sexes were shown photographs of a selection of faces taken from glamorous magazines - interspersed with pictures of office workers judged to be "plain" or "ugly".
The results showed that the babies invariably spent longer looking at the good-looking faces.
Dr Alan Slater, a psychologist at Exeter University, said this proved that attraction to better-looking people was an instinctive human trait, something we are all born with.
"It used to be thought that new-born babies came into the world as a totally blank sheet of paper on which experience will then write," he said yesterday. "But what we are finding more and more is that babies are born with a number of in-built mechanisms that help them to organise and make sense of their newly-perceived world - and one of these is that they display an attractiveness effect."
Dr Slater, who will present his findings to this week’s conference of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said previous research had confirmed that it is not just Hollywood actors like Tom Cruise or Catherine Zeta-Jones who benefit from good looks.
"Research has shown that if you have attractive individuals, people judge them to be more honest, trustworthy and better in terms of time-keeping - any positive attributes are more likely to be associated with such attractive individuals," he said.
"There’s no doubt that attractive people tend to do better in life than less-attractive people - nobody ever said evolution was supposed to be fair."
The most likely explanation for babies’ interest in attractive people’s faces is that the size and shape of their features - and the spacing between the eyes, the nose and the mouth - tend to be closer to the average of the wide range of different faces found in any human society.
"If you take a lot of female faces and you then morph - or average them out - into one face, that face turns out to be not an average-looking face, but a very attractive face," said Dr Slater.
"So an attractive face most closely represents the prototype for all human faces and that gives the baby a head start because it can look at one and say, ‘this is a human being like me, this is my species’, and it can start interacting.
"In evolutionary terms it is obviously a big advantage to be able to tell who is of your species when you’re trying to make sense of the world."
This does not mean that babies will not bond with "unattractive" parents, siblings or friends. "If you have an ‘ugly’ mother, that doesn’t matter in the slightest - what is most important is who looks after you and that is where experience comes in. Fortunately, as they grow up, babies learn from experience that appearances are not everything."
Separate tests confirmed what every mother knows: that new-born babies respond much better when talked to in "motherese" - a high-pitched, empathetic "baby" voice - than the tones normal to adult speaking.
Researchers also found that new-born babies had an in-built liking for classical music, including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Dr Gordon Patzer, the dean of the College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University who has studied physical attraction for 30 years, has said that a person’s facial appearance affects their lives from the cradle to the grave. "As distasteful as that might be, that’s the reality," he said.
Ironically, as babies themselves are instinctively assess-ing the attractiveness of those around them, the treatment they receive at the hands of others depends on their own looks.
"For example, in a nursery, before new-born babies are released from a hospital, those babies higher in physical attractiveness - at this level defined as more cute - are touched more, held more and spoken to more," said Dr Patzer.
And the trend, he said, continues in school. He claimed that it was seen even in teachers’ attitudes towards the more attractive children. "When they interact with children of higher physical attractiveness, they ask more questions, prompt them for more answers. We expect those children to do better and, consequently, they fulfil our expectations and they actually do do better."
This preferential treatment carries on in places where one would least expect it, such as the offices of GPs or hospitals.
"We see it in medical interactions - the physicians will tend to pay more attention to a patient of higher physical attractiveness, and will also spend more time answering individual questions that that person asks."
Dr Patzer said the reason for this is that humans are conditioned to respond more favourably to attractive people.
"This is something anthropologically that has existed for as long as history," he added.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North