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Geography Determines Value of Good Looks

Researchers from two universities have discovered that a pleasant appearance is beneficial although the importance of physical features that are ‘easy on the eyes’ depends upon where you live.

University of Georgia and University of Kansas scientists found an increased sense of psychological well-being among attractive people, probably a result of numerous social relationships.

However, the study went deeper than superficial looks as authors determined the importance of attractiveness is not universal; rather, it is determined by where we live.

Their work is published in this month’s issue of Personal Relationships.

Attractiveness does matter in more socially mobile, urban areas (and from a woman’s point of view actually indicates psychological well-being), 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.

Furthermore, urban women need not have below-average looks in order to experience a diminished sense of well-being and social life.

Dr. Victoria C. Plaut and her team studied women at mid-life in the U.S. based on data related to their well-being, social connectedness, and their body attractiveness (assessed with a calculation of their waist-to-hip ratio).

Plaut points out, “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.

“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.”

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Geography Determines Value of Good Looks

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Geography Determines Value of Good Looks. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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