Looking Good and Looking Smart
Posted: 30 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 28, 2016
We analyze the link existing between perceived intelligence and perceived beauty. Here, perceived beauty encompasses a set of personal characteristics as suggested by Hakim’s (2010) erotic capital that allows to consider human capital in a broad sense including several dimensions of attractiveness and attitude and not only facial cues. The analysis is based on original survey data collected and compiled by Epoll Market Research that provides thorough information on how 3,620 American celebrities are perceived by a representative sample of the American population. These celebrities are prominent people in fields like cinema, sports, music, business, politics, etc. We correlate intelligence scores with scores on eleven available physical attributes linked with physical beauty (attractive, beautiful, charming, classy, cute, exciting, glamorous, handsome, physically fit, sexy, and stylish). Results show that being judged classy or charming is positively associated with intelligence whereas looking cute, physically fit, or sexy sends a negative signal about cognitive skills. Since pictures of celebrities are also shown (at random) at half of the participants of the surveys, we can also draw causal inferences on how this “natural experiment” changes perception and correlations.
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