Is generosity the next beauty trend? Gratitudology part 4.

New Study

It’s called the “good-looking giver” effect: Beautiful people are perceived to be good, and goodness is seen as beautiful. In Gratitudology parts 1-3, I talked about scientific evidence that generosity and thankfulness have a measurable impact on physical health and well-being. I learned that one positive effect of gratitude on health was mediated by lower reported levels of stress, and also that gratitude can be cultivated to enhance the effect. A large study reported earlier this year asked whether the same applies for physical attractiveness, and the results were surprising.[1]

It makes sense that we perceive people who engage in generous behaviors and express gratitude as being more attractive; researchers term this a halo effect, creating a context in which we see people in a more favorable light. We are naturally attracted to such people, which would explain why attractiveness and beauty are synonymous. But this study, based on 3 large data sets, found a strong correlation even when attractiveness and characteristics of generosity were separated. Participants rating physical attractiveness had no information on the subjects’ giving behaviors or expressions of gratitude. Attractive people are more likely to be good, and good people more likely to be attractive. Volunteering and giving affection were related to higher attractiveness ratings across all age groups, and the findings were consistent across all 3 data sets representing different study populations at different times. Goodness enhances beauty if to those who don't anything about you.

How doing good makes you look good

The study’s authors believe that the importance of their findings is that they disprove the perception that beautiful people are self-focused and vain. They even went so far as to speculate that “Perhaps being generous could be the next beauty trend.” [Source(s): Indiana University, Science Daily]

If you ask me, this also explains why my patients are so good-looking. I was recently updating the reviews section on my website, and was floored by all of the kind things that patients have said about my staff and me. I made the word cloud at the top of this post as part of a thank-you to my staff, using the most frequently used terms. I am incredibly fortunate to have them, and am filled with gratitude as we approach what will be a very different Thanksgiving this year.

[1]  Konrath S, Handy F. The Good-looking Giver Effect: The Relationship Between Doing Good and Looking Good. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. August 2020. doi:10.1177/0899764020950835