The lies behind "Don't judge a book by its cover"






I am sure you have heard the phrase "Love at first sight" several times before, there's a chance you have also fallen in love at first sight. But have you ever wondered how you fall in love with someone in first sight? A person who you have never seen or interacted with, a complete stranger, what is it that you feel attracted towards them? You might say it's your soul pulling you towards them but growing up we are all taught to not judge a book by its cover and to not be too susceptible over someone's physical charms so why do human beings still get "struck with a lightning bolt" by someone's physical appearance? Science has given very applauding explanations behind this. 

Existing evidence indicates that even if we want to, we can’t really follow the advice of not judging someone by their physical appearance because physical appearance is a powerful factor in our liking for others , and even in our selection of who we interact with. Several behavioural studies have concluded that others’ physical appearance does have a strong effect on us, and often plays a powerful role in interpersonal attraction and influences many aspects of how we will behave towards them. For instance, attractive defendants are found guilty by judges and juries less often than unattractive ones. Furthermore, attractive people are judged to be healthier, more intelligent, more trustworthy, and as possessing desirable social characteristics such as kindness, generosity, and warmth to a greater extent than less attractive ones. The most basic example can be when you in a room of new people and you usually go to people who are physically attractive. 

A psychologist, Lemay et al. (2010) have introduced the concept of "What is Beautiful is Good" Effect. He described this as a 3-step process. First, humans desire to form relationships with attractive people. Second, this strong desire leads humans to perceive them as kinder, more outgoing, and socially warmer than less attractive people. In other words, humans project their own desire to form relationships with these people to them, and it is this projection that generates very positive perceptions of them.

I find the ideas of “what is beautiful is good” effect as very accurate because attractiveness is associated with popularity, good interpersonal skills, and high self-esteem. Perhaps this is so because physically attractive people spend their lives being liked and treated well by other people so they often try to use this trait for their own advantage, like in persuading or influencing others. There's a huge chance that a lot of people will deny that they don't discriminate on the basis of someone's physical appearance but it's just the truth. Humans have subconsciously developed a bias for people who are fair or light skinned and skinny. Notice how the receptionists are usually women with noticeable attractive features. Also, when two strangers are in a conflict, you are most likely to believe the person who is more pleasing to the eye. 

So what's the point of advocating for "ugly" people on social media with when in daily life humans just think of them as a possible threat in a strange environment. There's no instant solution to this but the first step is to accept and be aware of our subconscious bias. Then slowly make a change in our behaviour where we actually make assumptions about people on the basis of how they behave in a setting. In addition, getting rid of something that's engraved in our subconscious can be quite a task so the bottom-line of it is to always remember that not all people are beautiful but, all have value. 

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