The study led by University of Georgia and the University of Kansas researchers suggests that the impact of our attractiveness on our social lives depends on the social environment where we live.
Attractiveness does matter in more socially mobile, urban areas but it is far less relevant in rural areas. In urban areas, individuals experience a high level of social choice, and associating with attractive people is one of those choices. In other words, in urban areas, a free market of relationships makes attractiveness more important for securing social connections and consequently for feeling good.
In rural areas, relationships are less about choice and more about who is already living in the community. Therefore, attractiveness is less likely to be associated with making friends and feeling good. In addition, urban women need not have below average looks in order to experience a diminished sense of well-being and social life.
“In the field of psychology, research results are generally seen as having a natural and universal applicability. This research suggests that this is far from being the case,” said lead researcher Dr. Victoria C. Plaut.
“Rather, the importance of attractiveness varies with certain sociocultural environments, and, if you think about it, urban environments are actually a relatively recent addition to human life,” Plaut added.