Beauty and its influence on others has been debated among cultures throughout istory. Beauty has been widely regarded as a mysterious and seductive force that reveals its power through stories of politics, marriage, power, and social status.
‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ simply means that what we consider beautiful is based on the stories we tell ourselves; a subjective experience colored by the unconscious and by culture.
Physical attractiveness does create a powerful first impression on the mind, so powerful that we may go much beyond looks and simply start generating assumptions about a person’s success, status, parenting, and intelligence, even if they prove not to be true.
If you think someone is beautiful, you are also likely to assume they are smart, ambitious, interesting, etc. We have all made these assumptions before, for good or for bad.
Research has demonstrated time and again that there are tremendous social and economic benefits to being attractive. Attractive people are paid more, are judged more intelligent and will receive more attention in most parts of life.
This favoritism seems to be innate and cross-cultural. Even infants prefer pretty faces.
Mothers give more affection to attractive babies. Teachers favor more attractive students and judge them as smarter. Attractive adults get paid more for their work and have better success in dating and mating.
And juries are less likely to find attractive people guilty and recommend lighter punishments when they do.
Many factors can play into personal attractiveness; the way you dress, the way you act, the way you carry yourself, even things that are hard or impossible to change, like social status and wealth, race, and body size and shape.
But the first thing we notice when we meet someone is their face. There are faces that launch a thousand ships, and faces that only a mother could love.
Among the most important and consistent factors in facial attractiveness are structural qualities of the face. An attractive man is generally one with relatively prominent cheekbones and eyebrow ridges and a relatively long lower face.
An attractive woman is generally one with prominent cheekbones, large eyes, small nose, a taller forehead, smooth skin, and an overall young or even childlike appearance.
In myth, beautiful women are disruptive of men’s reason, even causing them to go to war. We now know that there is truth to the idea that men make worse decisions when exposed to female beauty.