Are beautiful people more intelligent?

Empirical studies demonstrate that individuals perceive physically attractive others to be more intelligent than physically unattractive others. While most researchers dismiss this perception as a ‘‘bias’’ or ‘‘stereotype,’’ we contend that individuals have this perception because beautiful people indeed are more intelligent. The conclusion that beautiful people are more intelligent follows from four assumptions. (1) Men who are more intelligent are more likely to attain higher status than men who are less intelligent. (2) Higher-status men are more likely to mate with more beautiful women than lower-status men. (3) Intelligence is heritable. (4) Beauty is heritable. If all four assumptions are empirically true, then the conclusion that beautiful people are more intelligent is logically true, making it a proven theorem. We present empirical evidence for each of the four assumptions. While we concentrate on the relationship between beauty and intelligence in this paper, our evolutionary psychological explanation can account for a correlation between physical attractiveness and any other heritable trait that helps men attain higher status (such as aggression and social skills).

Source: “Why beautiful people are more intelligent” from Intelligence 32 (2004) 227–243

One of the study’s authors, Satoshi Kanazawa elaborates on his blog:

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 of r = .381, which is reasonably large in any survey data.

Kanazawa says the findings are more true for men than women but robust for sexes. To quote him: “If you want to estimate someone’s 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.”

You can learn more about Kanazawa’s interesting (and controversial) research in his book, Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters.

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