A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature
Beautiful People Really ARE More Intelligent
Intelligence is just as strongly correlated with beauty as with education
Beautiful people have higher intelligence than ugly people, especially if they are men. In a previous post, I show, using an American sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, that physically more attractive people are more intelligent. As I explain in a subsequent post, the association between physical attractiveness and intelligence may be due to one of two reasons. Genetic quality may be a common cause for both (such that genetically healthier people are simultaneously more beautiful and more intelligent). Alternatively, the association may result from a cross-trait assortative mating, where more intelligent and higher status men of greater resources marry more beautiful women. Because both intelligence and physical attractiveness are highly heritable, their children will be simultaneously more beautiful and more intelligent. Regardless of the reason for the association, the new evidence suggests that the association between physical attractiveness and general intelligence may be much stronger than we previously thought.
As the graph below shows, attractive NCDS respondents are significantly more intelligent than unattractive NCDS respondents. Attractive NCDS respondents have the mean IQ of 104.23, whereas unattractive NCDS respondents have the mean IQ of 91.81. The difference between them is 12.42. This mean difference implies a correlation coefficient of r = .381, which is reasonably large in any survey data.
By pure coincidence, the correlation between physical attractiveness and intelligence in NCDS is exactly the same, down to the third decimal point, as the correlation between intelligence and education. Both correlations are .381. Everybody knows that intelligence and education are very highly correlated. What they don’t know is that physical attractiveness is equally highly correlated with intelligence as education is. If you want to estimate someone’s intelligence without giving them an IQ test, you would do just as well to base your estimate on their physical attractiveness as you would to base it on their years of education.
As the following two graphs show, the association between physical attractiveness and intelligence is stronger among men than among women. In the NCDS sample, the attractive women have a mean IQ of 103.64, and the unattractive women have a mean IQ of 92.25. The difference between them is 11.39. This mean difference implies a correlation coefficient of r = .351.
In contrast, the attractive men in the NCDS sample have a mean IQ of 105.00, and the unattractive men have a mean IQ of 91.39. The difference between them is 13.61, which is almost one full standard deviation in the IQ distribution (σ = 15). This mean difference implies a correlation coefficient of r = .414, which is very large in any survey data.
Now, given that it was the children’s teacher who was asked to assess their physical attractiveness, there is a possibility of a halo effect, where teachers believe that better, more intelligent students are physically more attractive. The halo-effect explanation for the association between physical attractiveness and intelligence, however, runs into three different problems. First, it presumes that the judgment of physical attractiveness is arbitrary and subjective. As I explain in an earlier post, however, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it is an objective, quantifiable trait of someone like height or weight. Second, as I note in the previous post, the association between beauty and intelligence has been found in the American Add Health sample, where physical attractiveness of the respondents is assessed by the interviewer who is unaware of their intelligence.
Most importantly, however, the halo-effect explanation simply leads to another question: Where does the teachers' belief that more intelligent students are more attractive come from? The notion that more intelligent individuals are physically more attractive is a stereotype, and, just like all other stereotypes, it is empirically true, as both the American and British data show. Teachers (and everyone else in society) believe that more intelligent individuals are physically more attractive because they are.
A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature
Beautiful people are more intelligent I
Maybe beauty isn't just skin-deep.
Sociologists and social psychologists have long known that there is a widespread perception shared by many people that physically attractive people are more intelligent and competent, as well as hold many other desirable characteristics. A large number of experiments over the years have shown that, when asked to rate the intelligence or competence of unknown others, people tend to rate attractive others as more intelligent and competent than unattractive others. This sentiment is captured in an old aphorism “What is beautiful is good.” But why is this? Why do people believe that physically attractive people are more intelligent and competent?While physical attractiveness is an integral part of mate selection, the evidence suggests that concerns for mate selection are not the reason people think that beautiful people are more intelligent. First, children as young as kindergarteners share the perception that beautiful people are more competent. Asked to choose between two teachers, one more physically attractive than the other, many kindergarteners prefer the more attractive teacher because they believe she is more competent and nicer. Second, more importantly, among adults, the common perception holds both within and between the sexes. Not only do men believe that more attractive women are more intelligent and women believe more attractive men are more intelligent, but men also believe that more attractive men are more intelligent and women also believe that more attractive women are more intelligent. Since 5-year-olds are typically not concerned with mate selection, and since most people are heterosexual, these two pieces of evidence suggest that there is more going on than concerns of mate selection.
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), conducted by a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, is one of the very few social science datasets that take biological and genetic influences on human behavior seriously. As a result, Add Health routinely measures both the intelligence and physical attractiveness of its respondents.
In the Wave III of Add Health, conducted in 2000-2001, respondents take an IQ test called the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. And then their physical attractiveness is measured objectively by an interviewer, who is unaware of their IQ test scores, on a 5-point scale (1 = Very unattractive, 2 = Unattractive, 3 = About average, 4 = Attractive, and 5 = Very attractive). The following graph shows the association between Add Health respondents’ physical attractiveness and their intelligence. The data come from a large (n = 15,197) nationally representative sample of young Americans (mean age = 22).
As you can see, there is a clear monotonic positive association between physical attractiveness and intelligence. The more physically attractive Add Health respondents are, the more intelligent they are. The mean IQ is 94.2 for those rated “very unattractive,” 94.9 for those rated “unattractive,” 97.1 for those rated “about average,” 100.3 for those rated “attractive,” and 100.7 for those rated “very attractive.” Due partly to the large sample size, the association is highly statistically significant.
As I explain in earlier posts, both intelligence and physical attractiveness are correlated with sex; men on average are slightly more intelligent than women, and women on average are physically more attractive than men. So it is important to see what the association between physical attractiveness and intelligence looks like within each sex. The following two graphs reproduce the association separately for each sex.
The graphs show that the association is no longer monotonic among either women or men, but the general positive association still holds for both sexes. “Very attractive” women are on average more intelligent than “very unattractive” women by about 6 IQ points. Similarly, “very attractive” men are on average more intelligent than “very unattractive” men by about 8 IQ points.
So it appears that the “stereotype” that beautiful people are more intelligent appears to be true empirically, just as virtually all “stereotypes” are. But now the question is: Why? Why are beautiful people more intelligent? I will address this question in my next post.
Beauty and brains DO go together! Study claims good-looking men and women have higher IQsBy Daily Mail Reporter
Handsome men and women often appear to be blessed with lucky lives. Now research has shown they are cleverer than most people as well.
Studies in Britain and America have found they have IQs 14 points above average.
The findings dispel the myth of the dumb blondes or good-looking men not being very bright.
It appears that those already physically blessed attract partners who are not just good looking but brainy too, according to research by the London School of Economics.
Beauty and intelligence: Supermodel Lily Cole, Cambridge student, and Hollywood actress Kate Beckinsale who studied at Oxford
The children of these couples will tend to inherit both qualities, building a genetic link over successive generations between them.
LSE researcher Satoshi Kanazawa told the Sunday Times: ''Physical attractiveness is significantly positively associated with general intelligence, both with and without controls for social class, body size and health.
'The association between attractiveness and general intelligence is also stronger among men than among women.'
Clever and handsome: Physicist Brian Cox
In other research on social standing, he found that middle-class girls tended to have higher IQs than their working- class counterparts.
Among the millions of examples of beauty and brains, there's supermodel Lily Cole who went to Cambridge University, actress Kate Beckinsale, an Oxford graduate, and physicist Brian Cox, one-time keyboard player with D:ream.
In Britain, the study found that men who are physically attractive had IQs an average 13.6 points above the norm while women were about 11.4 points higher.
Kanazawa's findings were based on the National Child Development Study which followed 17,419 people since their birth in a single week in March, 1958.
Throughout their childhood up to early adulthood, they were given a series of tests for academic progress, intelligence and marked on appearance.
The American research was taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health which involved a similar study of 35,000 young Americans.
Kanazawa, whose paper was published in the academic journal Intelligence, said: 'Our contention that beautiful people are more intelligent is purely scientific. It is not a prescription for how to treat or judge others.'