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Physical Appearance and its Psychological Effects

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Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:03 am
Attolia says...

I have a somewhat shallow fascination with beauty. But it's more than just on a primitive, aesthetic level; on an intellectual level, I find it intriguing - the psychological effects that appearance has on people. And it's a subject that is rarely intelligently discussed, at least in my experience.

Like, where do we separate the outside man from the inner one. How much are the two connected. And how much do the two come to be connected. Mostly people would idealistically like to say that the outside man has little effect on the person he comes to be internally, but I don't really believe this to be the case. Obviously there is a division, and obviously the personality and core of a man is developed on an independent level than from his appearance, but you can't tell me there's not an effect that comes from his physical appearance. And obviously again, the level to which the appearance of man influences his personality and core being varies and is individual to the man. Now I'm just babbling, but basically, the part I'm fascinated with is how much appearance comes into play. What are all your opinions on that?

And the psychological effects of beauty - I mean this both on an individual level and an external level. The effects a man's appearance has on himself, and the effects it has on those around him. Attractive people, whether they use it or not, often have a greater type of power over others. The degree to which individuals use this and are cognizant of it fascinates me as well.

Relationships, as well, depend a lot on correlating appearances. The reason couples stay together is usually because they like each other on a level separate from appearance, but the physical attraction is what, more often than not, first caused them to get together. And how often are people blinded or influenced by beauty? Do you guys like this, or not? And examine it from both angles - occurrences when you've been able to get things by looks, and occurrences when others have unfairly - do you guys like this? I mean, it's probably universally agreed that it is unfair and "too bad" that beauty has so much sway, but that's reality.

My opinion and thoughts regarding all of this are so wishy-washy it amuses me. Basically, I just want to hear some voices on this. Tell me what you think.
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Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:18 am
LookUpThere says...

The external man has little impact on anyone else, but everything has an impact on the external man. Genetics should be the first. But your self-esteem would determine what lengths you go to take care of yourself. The external man doesn't tell you that you're smart or geeky. Often people that feel very good about themselves (Not necessarily intelligent people) think they look good and are told not. This results in depression and so forth. But someone that doesn't care about their looks, just their review count, might ALSO get insulted. They'd just bury themselves deeper in their studies which would make their 'shortcomings' stand-out.

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Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:35 am
Light_Devil! says...

Being aesthetically pleasing, beautiful if you will, in itself is wish-washy - as you say. In fact the famous quote, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," comes into play quite nicely here.

Nothing can always be defined as beautiful to every single person in this world. Therefore, "beauty" can on hold power over those who think it is "beautiful." I think "beauty" is every person's own perspective and their own perspective would change their internal self.

Say if I thought someone were beautiful, I would then judge myself by that person and consider my own self either "okay", maybe "perfect" or so on so forth. Having someone beautiful in my mind would make me compare myself with them in other words, which would directly affect my own beliefs of my person.

However, if someone else saw this person I thought was pretty and they didn't think they were pretty, then their internal beliefs wouldn't be changed or affected. Which of course brings me back to my main point:

As different people have different views, then the effects are wide and varied. However, it is safe to say beauty has always had a rather "unfair" lure of power. Anyway, that was my penny. :P
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Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:44 am
Francis Michael Buck says...

Yeah, beauty and looks definitely hold a lot of power, more so than most would probably like to (openly) admit. I mean think about it, if you're on a mostly empty subway in the middle of the night and a gorgeous young guy/girl smiles at you from down the aisle, you'll probably get a nice little feeling inside. But if that person is old and dirty with shaggy uncut hair and broken teeth and ripped clothes and basically altogether "ugly", well, your reaction is probably going to be a little different. Is it wrong to feel that way? Maybe. I don't really know, especially when it's not exactly something that can even be controlled (unless you really happen to be thinking about it at that very moment or something). Is it cultural? Evolutionary? I don't know, but both would make sense.

As to where the inner-man/outer-man begins and ends, well...I'm not sure there is a line. They both feed off of each other accordingly. In my opinion, a beautiful person that KNOWS they're beautiful would almost certainly have their personality be affected by that, be it in a small or large way. It's inevitable really, even if they're consciously trying NOT to have it affect them, since that is and of itself an effect to begin with (I have a feeling I'm messing up my affects/effects here, so someone correct me if I am). Likewise, an ugly person (or at least someone who thinks they're ugly) may go to great lengths to make themselves beautiful, and thus the inner does have a direct effect on the outer. I've often pondered the possibility that perhaps people's physical appearance is, in some tiny way, influenced by their personality. I don't mean like, clothing and hairstyle obviously, but their actual facial features. It just seems like so many people's physical features "perfectly match" their personality and the way they act (like a mind over matter sort of thing, I guess). But then that could always be chalked up to the fact that you already know the person and have grown to associate those features with that personality.

I'm not even sure the point I'm trying to make, or if I even have one. This is a surprisingly tough subject to debate, which probably means it's a good one. I'll have to think about it some more.
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Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:06 am
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Nate says...

This seems apt:
Babies prefer to gaze upon beautiful faces

Although none of us really like to admit it, we are evolutionary hard-wired to prefer attractive faces and that inevitably has consequences for everything else. Note that attractive does not mean beautiful (despite the headline in the story I linked to). Attractive just means a symmetric face. This goes into it a bit more:
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Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:25 am
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Cspr says...

Hm, interesting topic of chose. I'd agree with Light_Devil! on how different people see different things.

For example, I was once asked if I were on a diet by a Mom (and I wasn't). I said no, she gave me a dirty look. I informed her I have a weird body, she kept the dirty look.

Rather pitiful, if you ask me. I'm more of the "personality" sort of person. I'm, well, mostly an ace, though, so... If I like you, you're probably calm and like touchy topics. Normally I get along best with people that are WW2 veterans (weirdly enough) or family.

Quite frankly, outer beauty isn't something I really notice much...since I don't want to be with anyone "that" way. Sometimes someone will get my attention, like this dude at a train stop in Italy. But he was weird and about as crazy as me. Again, I wouldn't think of dating him, because...I'm not a moron. And that would be odd. And I was specifically told I was not allowed to do anything with anyone while out of the country.

So, yeah, I'm rambling. Basically, I tend to notice personality. If you're my age or know something cool, I'll pay attention; if you have a mental issue, you probably will scare the snot out of me. But that's because when I was six... Eh.

I like people who are about my height and mostly black-haired. Guys catch my attention if they're well-built and have a deeper voice (I guess?). And girls...just about all of 'em. I don't know. I can notice a little something nice in everyone; I call it an artist's eyesight.

I'm not too fond of weighty people, mostly because I don't understand it, because if I don't eat like a pig I lose weight until I look like I'm about to croak. And, well, I don't know. Maybe it's because I grew up around people in poverty who were really overweight, owned pit bulls, and their houses had the junk-heap vibe to them so it carries over.

I will admit to being slightly scared of black men as well, because of the reverse racism in said place. All the sudden, I was roughly Target #2--and #1 was hospitalized.

Um, and I like people with light-colored eyes, mostly. 'Cause I can read 'em better or something. But I don't really care now.

...As far as psychology goes, I feel much better about myself knowing I'm tall, fit, and generally seen as attractive (which is creepy when old /men/ start staring in Wal-Mart, however). Of course, personally, I like my common sense and ability to write a heck of a lot more. People can make themselves look attractive, but you're kinda stuck with a low IQ.

And now I'll stop being petty...
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Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:55 pm
emmaline49 says...

I think this is an interesting topic. Beauty matters a heck of a lot to people, but like the person before me, I value writing ability way more. Personally, while beauty is nice, it's intelligence and talent that matter most.
As an afterthought: Beauty can be inconvenient when it attracts unwanted attention. I'm sure some of us know what I'm talking about.
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Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:18 am
Speele says...

I mean think about it, if you're on a mostly empty subway in the middle of the night and a gorgeous young guy/girl smiles at you from down the aisle, you'll probably get a nice little feeling inside. But if that person is old and dirty with shaggy uncut hair and broken teeth and ripped clothes and basically altogether "ugly", well, your reaction is probably going to be a little different.

Super interesting topic! Consider me lurking. I just wanted to say that its one thing to judge a person based only on looks, however this example is also using personal hygiene, which a completely different matter. There are definitely psychological cues concerning hygiene that are different than those concerning facial symmetry.

Just a note. Please continue?!?! :)
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Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:57 pm
MeanMrMustard says...

There are theories out there that people are attracted to those who fit their "physical beauty" level. Beautiful people gravitate to beautiful people, based on purely physical, innate drives. I can't think of who proposed them at the moment, but if I remember right, there's supposed to be some kind of neural response that would not be triggered with someone that doesn't match them.

A load of hogwash or reasonable? I think you happen to see this all around you if you bother to pay attention. Of course, unless you're just unlucky, it's very easy with a little work, to make yourself more attractive physically. So does that skew the natural scale? Dunno!

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Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:19 pm
ShadowKnight155 says...

Well, this is what I think/wonder;my thoughts on the beauty vs./& Personality thing(I do wonder from time to time):

You know when you see "popular people," and they always are well muscled, tall, have large breasts, etc(no offense here, and it is stereotypical); is it the way they act that causes it(them to have large muscles, be tall, etc), or the way they look that causes it. Or, even like Nate said, we're just wired that way, so the majority of "popular people" are good looking, and look a stereotypical way, because we flock to them, naturally look up to them. If you see what I am saying. It's a fairly complex thing, and my minds in a jumble right now, so I can't say much more than this... :wink:
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Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:10 am
AdventurerDaniel says...

I like the way you approach this but there's one thing I've often observed there is an accepted definition of beauty in modern culture and it is constantly shifting to something else. Beauty can be in the eye of the beholder but there is a sense of beauty that seems to transcend human existence. The Greeks in their sculptures when making them the person reflected had no flaws and were perfect while Romans recognized imperfection and sculpted it. But I must say while I've met pretty girls that treat guys like dirt and handsome young men that well treat people like dirt there's an exception to every rule. I believe that maybe being aloud to get away with more merely for being attractive raises someone to have a disregard for other people yes but there are those that learn compassion because of that leniency.
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Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:37 am
Attolia says...

I'm introverted as hell and have been thinking about this again lately. It got so many amazing replies (to which I wish I wasn't too lazy to reply to them all) and I'd love to read some more, so I'm shamelessly bumping this. If I can, I'd like to turn it more personal as well: how much you value your and other's appearance, and how much it affects you.

Somebody mentioned they value their writing ability more than their appearance, and I've been thinking about that. I decided if I could increase one, either my writing abilities or my appearance, I'd choose to heighten my writing skills. But if I had to choose one to decrease, I'd also choose writing skills - I could not handle the opposite. My appearance impacts my confidence so much. Like, if I take the time to pick out an outfit and do my makeup and hair, I've found I have so much more confidence going about my entire day. At times I judge my worth almost solely on appearance, although otherwise I do not consider myself to be an insecure person, like at all. I mean, it's an aspect that is just so tangible compared to what you can't see. I sometimes analyze my friends' psyches and personalities and how much their appearance has come to influence them, especially with those on the extremes of the looks spectrum, and I find it fascinating. Facebook's a whole nother topic - I can get so concerned with how I look on facebook, it's disgusting. Facebook is kind of horrible in that now you can never get away from the world of appearances. And then gender roles, I was wondering how much they play into this subject. Sooo... shoot. Discuss. :)
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Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:37 pm
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Betheny says...

I'd love to write something intelligent and witty here that actually makes sense (a rare feat for me), so I'm not sure how this is going to turn out:
I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but as a few have already mentioned we, as humans, are naturally attracted to specific people and types of. Take men for example, I mean no offense to those who are male, I remember seeing something that said that males are usually more attracted to women they subconsciously believe would produce the most 'desirable' heirs or give their genes the best chance of survival. Now I'm not too sure just how credible this is. Also I very much agree that, stereotypically, 'popular people' are known to be the pretty ones although I personally don't tend to notice beauty, although I do, if that makes sense (I don't think it does but hey go). Anyway, I think I've just repeated alot of what others have already said, so I'll move on.

On a personal level I don't really fuss too much over my appearance, I mean yeah I'll wear nice clothes and run a brush through my hair but that's about it. I try to wear what I want not what everyone else thinks I should wear, same with make-up, the number of looks I get at the fact I don't/hardly ever wear make-up. And when they ask why I don't think they realise that it's okay not to follow trend, and that it is okay to be 'different'. I believe, or at least like to believe, that I am fairly out going yet able to remain quite an introvert (I can finally use the word without getting told off for being clever), I know how dodgy that sounds but if you were able to see me in school then you'd understand. For example I don't think when people first meet me they think I'm very social and I guess this due to how I look and dress ect, but when it comes to personality in other people I really try to find and 'make friends' with those with what I deem a 'good' personality. Sounds strange doesn't it? I think I've gone a bit off topic here... sorry people.
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