Are attractive people more confident and competent? Not necessarily, but the halo effect makes us think that way.
What is the halo effect?
One of the most well established findings in social-psychological research is that attractive and well-dressed people, compared to people of average appearance, are instinctively perceived by others as more intelligent, more interesting, more creative, as better leaders, …
In short: they are assigned a whole range of socially desirable traits.
Psychologists call this the halo effect: people’s attractiveness creates a “positive halo” on their other traits.
Why don’t we embrace the halo effect?
Of course, you then think that these people are more self-confident because of the praising feedback from others. The opposite is true. Research has confirmed that the relationship between self-confidence and attractiveness is inconsistent.
Attractive people themselves also exhibit the halo effect when judging others.
So why don’t we apply the halo effect to ourselves or embrace it and even tend to be more critical of ourselves?
There are two possible reasons for this
Lack of self-love
There is a difference between objective attractiveness (as judged by a sufficiently large random sample of other people) and self- perceived attractiveness. While objective attractiveness is only weakly correlated with confidence, there is a strong relationship between confidence and self-perception of attractiveness. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if other people think you look good, you have to think to yourself.
Awareness of the halo effect
Another reason for the inconsistent relationship between self-confidence and attractiveness is that attractive people are generally aware of the halo effect. They realise that others see them through the ‘beautiful-lens’ which makes them judge their abilities and attributes more positively. It is a bit like suddenly becoming very famous or rich, you would never know when people really want to be your friend because they really like you or because they want to get a piece of your fame/money. Even if you know you are attractive, knowing that other people will judge you more positively as a result can make you very unsure of your own abilities.
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