Attractive people are more likely to get divorced.

By Seriously Science | March 22, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Nils Sautter

Photo: flickr/Nils Sautter

From Brad Pitt to Elizabeth Taylor, many of the most beautiful celebrities also boast rocky private lives. But is this due to their attractiveness, their celebrity, or something else? This study investigated the relationship between physical attractiveness and relationship longevity, for both celebs and normal folks. They found that “those rated as more attractive in high school yearbooks were married for shorter durations and more likely to divorce,” a result that also proved true for high-profile celebrities. The authors go on to associate this effect with the “derogation of attractive alternatives” – i.e., physically attractive people are more tempted by or vulnerable to “relationship threats” (other hot people) when they are dissatisfied with their current relationship. So there you have it: Brangelina may have been doomed from the start. It’s just science.

Attractiveness and relationship longevity: Beauty is not what it is cracked up to be

“Across four studies, we examined the relational repercussions of physical attractiveness (PA). Study 1 (n = 238) found that those rated as more attractive in high school yearbooks were married for shorter durations and more likely to divorce. Study 2 (n = 130) replicated these effects using a different sample (high-profile celebrities). Study 3 (n = 134) examined the link between PA and the derogation of attractive alternatives, a relationship maintenance strategy. Study 4 (n = 156) experimentally manipulated perceived PA and examined its relation with both derogation of attractive alternatives and current relationship satisfaction. PA predicted likelihood of relationship dissolution and decreased derogation of attractive alternatives. Furthermore, PA predicted greater vulnerability to relationship threats—in this case, relationship alternatives—resulting from poor relationship satisfaction.”

Related content:
Whose cheating is more likely to doom a marriage: husband or wife?
Twitter: ruining marriages since 2006.
How many notches on your bedpost make you most attractive? The answer might surprise you.

  • OWilson

    Attractive people tend to have more choices in partners, so it’s easier to become involved with someone else.

    There’s also the tendency to fight over mirrors! :)

    And, let’s face it. If you are beautiful, you don’t need to actually do anything else. Being a celebrity is not really “doing”.

    Just be there, and accept the worship!

  • Uncle Al

    As with tattoos, trading up has positive feedback and perpetual disappointment as process displaces product.. Discern the divergence of Mr. Right vs. Mr. Right Now. Women seduce not produce to obtain; they never have enough. Overall, they cannot be trusted.

  • John Do’h

    Analogy… If you cannot afford a new car, you drive an ugly clunker. If you can afford a new car, you trade in your old car for a better model.

    Below average people have less hope of success outside of their bad marriage, so they stick with what they got. People that are below the mediocre line also sometimes get stuck in horrible marriages that should have never happened. So they are miserable and live with it.

    Of course, rich attractive people get stuck in bad marriages too, for other reasons. At least they ahve the “attractive” and/or “rich” aspects to fall back on.


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