Generosity has been previously linked to improved psychological outcomes such as increased self-esteem, happiness, and quality of life. Due to such positive outcomes, researchers have directed their efforts to examine the association of generosity with other variables. As such, a study was conducted to examine the effect of generosity on physical attractiveness.
Research on being generous
“Poets and philosophers have suggested the link between moral and physical beauty for centuries,” said study co-author Sara Konrath.
A recent study by Konrath and colleagues demonstrated that people who are generous are perceived to be attractive. This study was broken into three various parts: the first study was a cross-sectional study that examined older participants at a specific time, while the other two studies were longitudinal studies that examined young adults at multiple time points into late adulthood. The aim of the study was to investigate whether those individuals that were generous were rated as more attractive and whether the reverse is also true, individuals that are more attractive were likely to be generous. Raters of physical attractiveness were blinded to the participant’s status of whether they are generous or not. This allowed researchers to truly attempt to observe if there was any correlation between generosity and physical attractiveness.
The results demonstrated that older participants that were generous (defined by volunteering) were linked to higher ratings of attractiveness. Additionally, for the remaining two longitudinal studies, younger participants that volunteered also rated higher for attractiveness. Therefore, the study was able to conclude and verify that the bidirectionality between generosity and attractiveness exists. As such, people who are considered to be generous are more attractive, and people who are more attractive are more likely to be generous.
This study has important implications since there is a preconceived notion that attractive individuals tend to usually engage in self-serving behaviors and thus are more likely to be selfish. However, researchers in this study were able to disprove this and went on to reveal that more attractiveness correlated with higher levels of generosity. Moreover, researchers illustrated that individuals spend much time on their external beauty, but by merely doing good, they can help increase their physical attractiveness.
“Our findings suggest that beauty products and procedures may not be the only way to enhance an individual’s attractiveness,” Konrath said. “Perhaps being generous could be the next beauty trend.”
This study is crucial and might indicate significant evolutionary implications where mates are likely to choose those that are more generous due to the process of natural selection. Therefore, it is imperative that further research is conducted to examine the effect this has on mate choice.