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Beauty is as beauty does, study shows

Does being attractive on the outside lead to greater “beauty” on the inside in terms of a greater tendency for giving to others, or vice versa? Or do beautiful people tend to be more narcissistic and less giving, interested mainly in themselves? 

A recent analysis from Indiana University found that not only are more attractive people likely to be “givers,” but those who are givers are also rated as more physically attractive by others.

Woman looking in mirror at reflection
A recent study found people who are more giving are also considered more beautiful by others. (Source: Adobe Stock)

The analysis used three large studies, two that started when participants were in late adolescence and followed them for many years, and one that examined older adults at a single point in time.

Those rating the participants’ physical attractiveness had no knowledge about their giving behaviors, which allowed the researchers to determine how a person’s giving behaviors were related to their physical attractiveness without any preexisting bias.

In all three studies, people who were more giving were also rated by others as more attractive. In younger age groups, those who volunteered regularly were also rated more beautiful. When it came to older adults, volunteering and giving affection were related to higher attractiveness ratings. 

The study’s authors said that, while they cannot fully explain why the link between giving behaviors and attractiveness exists, its importance lies in disproving the perception that beautiful people are self-focused and vain.

“Our findings suggest that beauty products and procedures may not be the only way to enhance an individual’s attractiveness,” said Sara Konrath, an associate professor of philanthropic studies at IU. “Perhaps being generous could be the next beauty trend.”

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