Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Contrast Effect: An Easy Way to Become More Attractive

As a society, we spend countless dollars (somewhere in the ballpark of several hundred billion dollars) on products to make us more attractive. Cosmetics, dental work, plastic surgery, fancy clothing, perfume and cologne... the list goes on and on.


Attractive people are treated better.

We all know this, even though it is difficult to admit. Beautiful people have it easier. They make more money, get more perks, and are considered to be more friendly, empathic, outgoing... whatever. It's known as the halo effect.

It's easy to justify our expenditure on products to make us more attractive because it actually works. There's a solid return on investment. 

There's a flaw in our thought processes, though. We assume we're always being compared to some preset cultural standard of beauty... like the pictures we see on the cover of magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store. 

But we're not.

We're compared to the people around us. It's known as the contrast effect. If you are in a group of five people, everyone will rate your attractiveness based on the attractiveness of the other four. How exactly does this work?

Let's assume you're a solid "7" on a 1-10 scale. You're hanging out with another seven, a five, and 2 fours. The presence of the five and 2 fours will make you and the other seven appear more attractive... maybe like nines. People will treat you accordingly.

The idea can be turned around. Let's say you're a six and you're hanging out with a bunch of eights and nines. You'll be perceived even lower than you would if you were alone... maybe a four.

You don't even have to be in the presence of others for this effect to work. If you enter a room after someone more attractive enters, you'll be perceived as being less attractive. If you enter after someone less attractive, you'll be considered more attractive. It's a concept called priming.

So what's the lesson from this post? 

If you want to seem more attractive, it can be as simple as being in the presence of less attractive people. Or entering a room after a less attractive person. It may seem like an exceptionally shallow concept, but it's how we operate. Knowledge is power. 

Give it a shot. Notice how people treat you when you're in the presence of more attractive and less attractive people. Post your experiences in the comments section!


1 comment:

  1. The flaw in the test you propose is that we need to honestly assess our own attractiveness compared to others. This is not something we do well; in all manner of things we over rate ourselves. If you ask around, I think you will find that 90% or more of people will describe themselves as above average attractive.