Want suc­cess by plas­tic surgery? Think again

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

More and more peo­ple are opt­ing for plas­tic surgery. Even many stu­dents, many of them in se­nior mid­dle school in the sum­mer va­ca­tion, are opt­ing for it be­cause they be­lieve by “im­prov­ing” their ap­pear­ance they can in­crease their com­pet­i­tive­ness in the job mar­ket.

Ex­perts and the media al­ways warn young­sters who choose to un­dergo plas­tic surgery to be cau­tious and em­pha­size the im­por­tance of in­ner beauty, or the mind and soul. But many psy­cho­log­i­cal ex­per­i­ments seem to sup­port the as­sump­tion that “good-look­ing peo­ple are more likely to suc­ceed than peo­ple with av­er­age looks”. Peo­ple be­lieve it is eas­ier for “good-look­ing” peo­ple to get help, higher salaries, pro­mo­tions and praise.

Evo­lu­tion­ary psy­chol­o­gists tend to in­ter­pret this as the eter­nal com­pe­ti­tion of “good genes”. Other re­searchers say peo­ple gen­er­ally sup­pose good-look­ing peo­ple are nicer, sin­cerer and smarter than “or­di­nary-look­ing” peo­ple.

A study by the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia, Canada, shows peo­ple tend to over­es­ti­mate the com­pe­tence of good­look­ing peo­ple. In a job in­ter­view, if a can­di­date is good at ex­e­cu­tion as well as good look­ing, many em­ploy­ers tend to as­sume he/she will be bet­ter at ex­e­cu­tion. And ac­cord­ing to a Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics and Po­lit­i­cal Science study, “good-look­ing” men’s av­er­age IQ is 13.6 higher than that of “or­di­nary men” and “beau­ti­ful” women’s av­er­age IQ is 11.4 higher than “plain Janes”— and the re­sult is not in­flu­enced by fac­tors such as fam­ily back­ground or health con­di­tion.

De­spite this, we can­not con­clude that good looks de­cide ev­ery­thing and that in­ner beauty is use­less.

First, “get­ting more help” doesn’t equal “suc­cess”. A sev­eral-decades old trac­ing study in the US has recorded a group of peo­ple’s fam­ily back­grounds, men­tal and phys­i­cal health, in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships, re­la­tion­ships with off­spring, and in­comes from their col­lege peri- od till their old age. Its re­sults show a suc­cess­ful and happy life has noth­ing to do with sta­tus or for­tune, but has some­thing to do with “whether you love or are loved”. In other words, it is not a good job or good re­view that de­cides whether you have a good life or not.

Sec­ond, be­sides “pri­macy ef­fect”, “re­cency ef­fect” also plays a role in in­flu­enc­ing peo­ple’s judg­ment. The first im­pres­sion re­flects pri­macy ef­fect in so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, which has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on peo­ple’s judg­ment. In re­cency ef­fect, peo­ple tend to make judg­ments on the latest in­for­ma­tion they get. The two ef­fects ex­ist to­gether, which means a per­son has count­less chances to re­vise his/ her im­pres­sion af­ter the first im­pres­sion.

Third, in­ter­per­sonal at­trac­tion doesn’t rely on­ly­on­good looks. A study found that peo­ple gen­er­ally sup­pose those with larger heightwidth ra­tio faces are­mor­ere­li­able. Another study found the au­thor­i­ta­tive­ness of CEOs’ ap­pear­ance is pos­i­tively cor­re­lated with their com­pa­nies’ per­for­mance.

All these re­searchesshowthat in the com­pli­cat­ed­hu­manso­cial sys­tem, peo­ple are not judged only by their ap­pear­ance, in­stead they­have more­op­por­tu­ni­ties tomake their lives bet­ter. The au­thor is a PhD can­di­date in psy­chol­ogy in Bri­tain and the co-founder of online psy­chol­ogy or­ga­ni­za­tion yo­sumn.

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