Flashback Friday: Facial attractiveness is predicted by parental income during childhood.

By Seriously Science | February 17, 2017 6:00 am

Photo: flickr/Michael Vadon

If you’re like most people, you probably think that looks are mostly genetic–either you’re genetically “blessed” with good looks, or you’re not. But apparently it’s not as simple as that. According to this study, facial attractiveness in high school yearbook photographs increases with paternal education and parental income, “with the latter effect being stronger for female subjects.” In other words, rich kids tend to be more attractive, and especially girls. Whether the parents themselves being rich was related to their looks (which might make the effect genetic after all)…well, we’ll leave that for another study.

Effects of parental socio-economic conditions on facial attractiveness.

“Socio-economic conditions during early life are known to affect later life outcomes such as health or social success. We investigated whether family socio-economic background may also affect facial attractiveness. We used the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (n = 8434) to analyze the association between an individual’s parental socio-economic background (in terms of father’s highest education and parental income) and that individual’s facial attractiveness (estimated by rating of high school yearbook photographs when subjects were between 17 and 20 years old), controlling for subjects’ sex, year of birth, and father’s age at subjects’ birth. Subjects’ facial attractiveness increased with increasing father’s highest educational attainment as well as increasing parental income, with the latter effect being stronger for female subjects as well. We conclude that early socio-economic conditions predict, to some extent, facial attractiveness in young adulthood.”

Related content:
What is the average survival rate of pop stars?
NCBI ROFL: Unhappy yearbook photos herald crappier lives.
NCBI ROFL: Italian supermodels are hot. Romans with big noses are not.

  • lump1

    Uh yeah, assortative mating is real.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Psychology is the rump roast of human studies, p < 0.001.

  • Christy

    Perhaps the wealth of the parents contribute to the maximized health and therefore symmetry (a sign of high reproductivity in woman and good provider in men) of the child which is what is considered most attractive in all societies around the world.

  • moderatelymoderate

    I wonder if they considered that some of this was due to nose jobs or other plastic surgeries that only rich parents could afford.

  • OWilson

    Another cheap Americocentric musing, by those who haven’t travelled.

    Third world poverty stricken families can produce future Miss Universes, not to mention the Eastern European former USSR satellites.

    (I have personal knowlege of this! :)

    • dalvrl

      they may have come from 3rd. world countries but most likely the “Miss Universes” types from those third world countries either came from some middle/upper class family or perhaps the family came from wealth and at some point lost it…… PS: I also have personal knowledge of this :)

  • Suzanne

    Using Trump’s daughter as an example only proved he had enough money to marry someone from a genetically pleasing gene pool, same as his father did.

  • AG

    So there is no chance to find a beauty queen from trailer park?
    Poor kids.

  • Mike C

    So true !
    A huge part is the self esteem factor that is enhanced from being part of a wealthy family. In area’s related to hygiene, diet, self confidence, access to the arts and other worldly activities.

    There was an experiment performed between two scientist’s back in the 1950’s. The debate was based on what point in life could an ethnic, in a less than ideal environment, be moved to a much more advanced family environment and reverse the ethnic’s path from failure to success.

    After working with various age groups it was determined that beyond 2 years old an ethnic has almost no chance to reverse the trend towards failure.

    The scientists were astounded and puzzled by the test results. The government funded a followup study comparing the skull, brain size, organ size, etc… between white people and black people. The results were never released by the government.


Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]gmail.com.

See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar