According to a new study, the attractiveness level of a person increases when the individual is surrounded by less attractive peers. One might say that, as time, attractiveness is relative, lots of outside elements factoring in on the perceived levels of beauty.
Dr. Nicholas Furl, a member of the Psychology Department at London’s Royal Holloway University, published a new study in the Psychological Science magazine in which he argues that attractiveness is not a steady, quantifiable force that can be measured because the physical appeal of an individual depends on his or her entourage.
In other words, when an individual sees a picture with, for example, Johnny Depp, he or she may say that Depp is an attractive individual. However, when they are shown a picture of Johnny Depp next to several other more attractive Hollywood actors, his perceived attractiveness level drops because he is surrounded by men who can be cataloged as being more handsome.
To achieve his results, Dr. Furl gathered a sample of individuals who were asked to look at various pictures. Some images featured a single person, others showed that same person, but in a crowd.
When the participants were asked to rate the attractiveness level of the person in the images, they automatically said that he or she was more attractive in the pictures in which the other people were less physically appealing than the star, and less attractive when the peers outshined the individual who was rated.
The “distractor faces,” aka the people who were less appealing, led to an increased positive response to the individuals who were rated as being less attractive in solo pictures.
This led the scientist to believe that attraction and attractiveness are both highly influenced by the surrounding environment. However, there must also be a balance between distractor and beautiful faces.
Furl discovered that when two attractive individuals are placed near a distractor face, the level of criticism towards the more physically appealing people increases. The participants were more critical when a single less attractive individual was placed near two or more people with high attractiveness levels, meaning that just a pinch of ugliness only serves as a catalyzer, evidencing the ugly features in all the others.
The study is not the first to experiment with this theory, Hollywood teenager movies presenting this trope as a universal truth.
How do you feel about the findings?