Want People to Think You’re Pretty? Then Don’t Be a Jerk

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Photo: Disney

Sometimes the best beauty tips come from unexpected places, like academic journals. According to a new paper in Personality and Individual Differences, people will think you’re more attractive if you seem like a decent, honest person. In other words: Just be nice! 

For this study, researchers asked 120 students at a Chinese university to rate the attractiveness of 60 unfamiliar female faces; everyone’s ratings were pretty similar. Then, two weeks later, the researchers brought the students back into the lab and showed them the same pictures — only this time, some of the students were told positive things about the personalities of the women in the photographs (decent, honest), and others were told negative things (evil, mean). The students who thought they were looking at the faces of kind, decent women ended up rating those faces as more attractive than the students who’d been told they were judging a bunch of jerkfaces.

Previous research has shown that we perceive attractive people to be more competent; there’s also evidence that better-looking people make more money than the rest of us slobs. There’s comparatively less evidence, however, that this works the other way around — that we find people with better personalities more attractive. Score one for the whole inner-beauty thing.