Social psychologist Elliot Aronson asks this question: Imagine you are on a blind date. It is the end of the evening and you are wondering whether or not you want to go out with this person again. Which of your partner's characteristics will weigh most heavily? Warmth? Sensitivity? Intelligence? Compassion? How about good looks?
You guessed correctly. Good looks. In a study at the University of Minnesota, people say that beauty is only skin deep, but blind dates went for good looks for a second date.
In another study, at UCLA, physical attractiveness was important in long-term relationships, but in a different way. Similarity of attractiveness was crucial to staying power. Those who were well matched in terms of rated physical attractiveness tended to stay together.
Professor Aronson says we are carefully taught. Disney movies and storybooks teach us what it means to be good looking. By college, we all seem to agree not only on what is attractive, but what are the qualities of an attractive person. Television and magazines sustain these cultural standards.
Which brings us to advertising. If you want to know why so many actors are attractive, I just told you. Who would you more likely believe --- an actress who could play Snow White, or an actress who could play her evil stepmother? According to Aronson, the one you would believe in is the one you'd rather be like.
Now who are you likely to cast in a TV commercial? An attractive model or an unattractive model? And don't say it's a matter of fairness. Social psychologists say there's no such category.