Why does beauty make us happy?

29.03.2011 10:54

Current study: Beauty makes you successful and happy

Mark Fallak public relation
Institute for the future of work

A good appearance increases economic success and thus has a positive effect on individual life satisfaction. Beautiful people achieve material advantages primarily because their appearance is rewarded on the job market. A new study published by the Institute for the Future of Work (IZA) confirms this connection.

Using extensive data from Germany, Great Britain, Canada and the USA, the study clarifies the interactions between someone else's judgment of beauty and self-perceived satisfaction with life. The surveys are based on very different approaches to measuring and subjectively evaluating these two properties.

In addition to a direct "feel-good effect" of good looks, an increased personal feeling of happiness results primarily from indirect effects: the beauty perceived by others brings material advantages on the job market and when looking for a partner. Overall, men and women benefit equally from visual attractiveness. However, for men, the chances of economic success play a greater role, while for women the direct influence of self-perceived beauty on life satisfaction is somewhat more pronounced.

The research results are also of interest in view of the current discussion about alternative indicators of prosperity. "Ultimately, life satisfaction is only suitable to a limited extent as an indicator of social inequality, since the prerequisites are natural to a certain extent and cannot be influenced by socio-political", says the renowned US economist and IZA guest scientist Daniel Hamermesh, who carried out the study together with Jason Abrevaya from from the University of Texas-Austin.

The English-language publication is available on the IZA website:

Daniel S. Hamermesh / Jason Abrevaya:
"Beauty Is the Promise of Happiness"?
IZA Discussion Paper No. 5600

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