Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

Beautiful People Really Are More Intelligent

Intelligence is just as strongly correlated with beauty as with education.


Post published by Satoshi Kanazawa on Dec 12, 2010 in The Scientific Fundamentalist

SHARE
Source: source unknown

Beautiful people have higher intelligencethan ugly people, especially if they are men.
In a previous post, I show, using an American sample from the National Longitudinal
Study of Adolescent Health, that physically more attractive people are more
intelligent. As I explain in a subsequent post, the association between physical
attractiveness and intelligence may be due to one of two reasons. Genetic quality may
be a common cause for both (such that genetically healthier people are simultaneously
more beautiful and more intelligent). Alternatively, the association may result from a
cross-trait assortative mating, where more intelligent and higher status men of greater
resources marry more beautiful women. Because both intelligence and physical
attractiveness are highly heritable, their children will be simultaneously more
beautiful and more intelligent. Regardless of the reason for the association, the new
evidence suggests that the association between physical attractiveness and general
intelligence may be much stronger than we previously thought.

The National Child Development Study (NCDS) includes all babies born during the
week of 03-09 March 1958 in Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland), and has
followed them for more than half a century throughout their lives. When the
children were 7 and again when they were 11, their teachers were asked to describe
them physically. For the purpose of the analysis below, the children are defined to
be attractive if they were described as attractive at both age 7 and age 11. They were
defined to be unattractive otherwise. 62% of the NCDS respondents are coded as
attractive. Their intelligence is measured with 11 different cognitive tests at three
different ages (7, 11, and 16). NCDS has the best measure of general intelligence
available in any large-scale survey data.
As the graph below shows, attractive NCDS respondents are significantly more
intelligent than unattractive NCDS respondents. Attractive NCDS respondents have the
mean IQ of 104.23, whereas unattractive NCDS respondents have the mean IQ of
91.81. The difference between them is 12.42. This mean difference implies a
correlation coefficient ofr = .381, which is reasonably large in any survey data.

Source: NCDS

By pure coincidence, the correlation between physical attractiveness and intelligence in


NCDS is exactly the same, down to the third decimal point, as the correlation between
intelligence and education. Both correlations are .381. Everybody knows that
intelligence and education are very highly correlated. What they dont know is that
physical attractiveness is equally highly correlated with intelligence as education is. If
you want to estimate someones intelligence without giving them an IQ test, you would
do just as well to base your estimate on their physical attractiveness as you would to
base it on their years of education.
As the following two graphs show, the association between physical attractiveness and
intelligence is stronger among men than among women. In the NCDS sample, the
attractive women have a mean IQ of 103.64, and the unattractive women have a mean
IQ of 92.25. The difference between them is 11.39. This mean difference implies a
correlation coefficient of r = .351.

Source: NCDS

Source: NCDS

In contrast, the attractive men in the NCDS sample have a mean IQ of 105.00, and the
unattractive men have a mean IQ of 91.39. The difference between them is 13.61,
which is almost one full standard deviation in the IQ distribution ( = 15). This mean
difference implies a correlation coefficient of r = .414, which is very large in any survey
data.
Now, given that it was the childrens teacher who was asked to assess their physical
attractiveness, there is a possibility of a halo effect, where teachers believe that better,
more intelligent students are physically more attractive. The halo-effect explanation for
the association between physical attractiveness and intelligence, however, runs into
three different problems. First, it presumes that the judgment of physical attractiveness
is arbitrary and subjective. As I explain in an earlier post, however, beauty is not in the
eye of the beholder; it is an objective, quantifiable trait of someone like height or
weight. Second, as I note in the previous post, the association between beauty and
intelligence has been found in the American Add Health sample, where physical
attractiveness of the respondents is assessed by the interviewer who is unaware of their
intelligence.

Most importantly, however, the halo-effect explanation simply leads to another


question: Where does the teachers' belief that more intelligent students are more
attractive come from? The notion that more intelligent individuals are physically more
attractive is a stereotype, and, just like all other stereotypes, it is empirically true, as
both the American and British data show. Teachers (and everyone else in society)
believe that more intelligent individuals are physically more attractive because they are.