chapter  9
28 Pages

Physical attractiveness in social interaction, II: why does appearance affect social experience?

WithHarry T. Reis, Ladd Wheeler, Nancy Spiegel, Michael H. Kernis, John Nezlek

This study was undertaken to determine precisely how physical attractiveness affects people’s social participation in everyday life. The following results were obtained: (a) For males, physical attractiveness related positively to the quantity of social interaction with females and negatively to that with males; for females, attractiveness did not relate to the quantity of socializing, (b) Attractiveness related positively to the affective quality of social experience for both sexes, (c) Attractive males were more assertive and were lower in fear of rejection by the opposite sex. Attractive females were less assertive and were lower in trust of the opposite sex. (d) For both sexes, assertiveness related positively to the quantity and quality of social participation. Fear of rejection led males to interact less with females and more with males and to have poorer quality interactions overall. (e) Social competence was shown to mediate part of the influence of beauty on males’ interaction patterns. For females, the effects of social competence on social interaction were shown to be opposite to those of attractiveness, suggesting that they have independent influences. The results were interpreted in terms of the importance of understanding how and why physical appearance may influence people’s day-to-day social experiences.