So I’m asking in my best Carrie Bradshaw imitation: are prettier people happier in life?
Angelina Jolie, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, I’m looking at you. Because a review study out of the University of Texas at Austin says yes, they are. Researchers Daniel S. Hamermesh and Jason Abrevaya looked into data from some 25,000 participants from Canada, the U.S., Germany and the U.K. who rated their own happiness and their personal beauty rated by others and came to this conclusion.
And so, after coming across this study and scowling at it for a bit, I touched base with Hamermesh to find out a bit more about the results.
Q: So for beautiful people, where does their happiness come from?
A: Much of it comes indirectly through beauty’s beneficial effects on one’s earnings and on their earnings capacity and beauty of one’s spouse. Some comes more directly — prettier people are happier, irrespective of the impact of their beauty on their earnings, spouse quality, etc.
Q: Did you find any differences between men and women?
A: Yes, more of the impact is direct among women, whereas among men, the majority of the impact of beauty on happiness works through earnings, “quality” of wife and other areas.
Q: So what can our readers take away from this? Is there anything they can apply to their lives?
A: Most importantly, while we have demonstrated these effects, they aren’t tiny and they aren’t huge either in impact. Women and men should realize that there are many dimensions that affect our success and happiness, and they should work on developing along those dimensions in which they have an advantage.
Admittedly I struggled whether to post something on this or not — what would it serve? But then I kind of spun it on its head and remembered indeed, attractiveness isn’t happiness. While it may give you a helping hand, there are so many other factors that can as well. If there’s anything I’ve learned in writing this blog, it’s that those dimensions Hamermesh refers to — your fulfillment at work, your home life, how social you are, the relationship you’re in — and so many more do build your outlook on life. Take that, Angelina…