Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are beautiful people intelligent?

High status men mate with attractive women, producing bright, beautiful babies, right?

ADD Health interviewers were asked the following about the study participant: "How physically attractive is the respondent?" Answers ranged from "very unattractive " to "very attractive." For each race/sex group, I calculated the Pearson correlation between this measure and the student's vocabulary test score--a proxy for IQ.

Pearson correlation coefficient

White .12*
Black .23*
Hispanic .22*
Amerindian .21*
Asian .18*

White .04*
Black .11*
Hispanic .01
Amerindian .18*
Asian .07

*significant relationship

All of the correlations are in the predicted direction, but they are weak (or non-existent). They are stronger for males than for females--I'm not sure why.


  1. dearieme6:27 PM

    Because men don't (usually) wear cosmetics?

  2. Agree. For women there's a lot more variance within woman from time to time, than with men. Men basically look the same as they do in the morning as when they go out on dates, versus women look completely different.

    I'm not sure how the survey was even sampled, but it's possible that there could even be sample bias, such that less intelligent women are being surveyed more near their peak beauty. For example if it's in the middle of the day in public, professional women are probably not that made up compared to waitresses..

  3. Were the interviewers male or female? Were repondents rated by same or opposite sex?

  4. I don't see that information.

  5. My thought was that most on-the-ground interviewers for a project on adolescent health are female social worker types. Females can accurately estimate the looks of males.

    But either because they're not attracted to females, or because they subconsciously want to cut down good-looking girls ("those bitches!") and elevate the homely ones, their estimates of female good looks are systematically biased to make females seem much more equal in looks.

  6. I was going to do a detailed post on attractiveness in AddHealth a year ago on gnxp.

    Female looks are accurately rated more extreme than males, with more high and low ratings.

  7. "Female looks are accurately rated more extreme than males, with more high and low ratings."

    That is what I would have guessed. I read somewhere (agnostic's blog I think) that reports ratings on a percentile basis instead of an absolute rating, which would probably cause some misunderstandings.


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