Does attractiveness buy happiness? “It depends on where you’re from”

Authors

  • VICTORIA C. PLAUT,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Georgia
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    • Victoria C. Plaut, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia; Glenn Adams and Stephanie L. Anderson, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas.

    • Dr. Plaut is currently visiting in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

  • GLENN ADAMS,

    1. University of Kansas
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    • Victoria C. Plaut, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia; Glenn Adams and Stephanie L. Anderson, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas.

  • STEPHANIE L. ANDERSON

    1. University of Kansas
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    • Victoria C. Plaut, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia; Glenn Adams and Stephanie L. Anderson, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas.


  • We thank Robert Bartlett, Steven Beach, Keith Campbell, Michael Kernis, Hazel Rose Markus, Lenny Martin, Benoî t Monin, Kris Preacher, and Abraham Tesser for their helpful comments.

Victoria C. Plaut, University of Georgia, Department of Psychology, Athens, GA 30602, e-mail: vplaut@uga.edu

Abstract

Abstract

Previous studies document that attractiveness predicts life outcomes, including well-being and social connectedness. This study investigates whether the attractiveness–outcomes link is especially strong in settings, such as many urban areas, that promote relationship constructions as a product of personal choice. This link may weaken in settings, such as many rural areas, that promote less voluntaristic-independent relationship constructions. Analyses of survey data from a national representative (United States) sample supported these hypotheses. Attractiveness (operationalized as waist-to-hip ratio) predicted well-being and social connectedness among urban (n = 257) but not rural (n = 330) women. Social connectedness mediated the urban–rural moderation of the attractiveness/well-being link. Findings suggest that frequently observed attractiveness effects are the product of particular, modern social contexts that promote relationship choice.

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