You may have heard about “The Cheerleader Effect” where cheerleaders in a group look hotter than any one individual. Well new research has found that perceived beauty is in flux, and our own attractiveness changes depending on context and who we’re with.
Study author Dr Nicholas Furl, of Royal Holloway’s Department of Psychology that people who are judged beside a less attractive person rate higher for attractiveness than they would have alone.
This brutal finding puts a spanner into the works about perceived attractiveness being somehow fixed. The study found an average face would become elevated for attractiveness when surrounded by undesirable faces.
The study got participants to rate the attractiveness of a person by themselves, and then again among a group containing a “distractor face”. When reevaluated the original face came out with a higher score.
Furly explained “The presence of a less attractive face does not just increase the attractiveness of a single person, but in a crowd could actually make us even more choosey! We found that the presence of a ‘distractor’ face makes differences between attractive people more obvious and that observers start to pull apart these differences, making them even more particular in their judgement.”
“Until now, it’s been understood that a person’s level of attractiveness is generally steady. 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.”
Hopefully we don’t let this study get us down, and instead realise that there’s so many small moving parts involved when it comes to attractiveness that at the end of the day we should be just happy with ourselves.