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September 05, 1987 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-05

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men and women," Cunningham
said in an interview with
The Jewish News.
In 1871, Charles Darwin made
an insightful observation on at-
tractiveness. "In civilized life," he
wrote, "man is largely, but by
no means exclusively,
influenced in the choice of his
wife by external appearance."
Within the past 20 years, social
psychologists have begun con-
ducting experiments on attrac-
tiveness that bear out the
accuracy of Darwin's words
not only for dating and mar-
riage but for a host of other
psychological and actual
benefits.
In an article detailing the
results of his experiment, enti-
tled "Measuring the Physical in
Physical Attractiveness," pub-
lished in the academic Journal
of Personality and Social Psy-
chology, Cunningham reviewed
the experiments done so far.
Physical attractiveness has
been found to influence hetero-
sexual dating, peer acceptance,
teacher behavior, altruism, atti-
tude change, employment inter-
views, jury decisions, marriage
happiness, and income. Re-
search shows that parents tend
to give more attention to cuter
babies; that many people
equate being attractive with
having positive social qualities
(i.e., being kind, sensitive, inter-
esting, outgoing, etc.); that
teachers tend to assume attrac-
tive children are more intel-
ligent; that attractive women
and men had higher paying
jobs; and that (in a study of
high school girls) the more at-
tractive women ended up in
families with significantly higher
net incomes than their less at-
tractive classmates.
Cunningham received his
doctorate from the University of
Minnesota, where much of the
research on attractiveness is be-
ing conducted. He defines his
specialty, social psychology, as

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