People expect good scientists to be less attractive.

By Seriously Science | May 25, 2017 6:00 am

595f0-bbmachineScientists are the subject of many stereotypes, from the mad scientist to the goofy nerd. What these all have in common, of course, is that they are generally not very attractive. So it’s probably not too surprising that this study found that people judge the quality of a scientist’s research by his/her facial appearance. More specifically, when it comes to science communication, “Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiveness boosted interest but decreased perceived quality.” Obviously, all we need is a list of the 50 sexiest scientists to help raise awareness. Oh yes… that actually exists :(

Facial appearance affects science communication.

“First impressions based on facial appearance predict many important social outcomes. We investigated whether such impressions also influence the communication of scientific findings to lay audiences, a process that shapes public beliefs, opinion, and policy. First, we investigated the traits that engender interest in a scientist’s work, and those that create the impression of a “good scientist” who does high-quality research. Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiveness boosted interest but decreased perceived quality. Next, we had members of the public choose real science news stories to read or watch and found that people were more likely to choose items that were paired with “interesting-looking” scientists, especially when selecting video-based communications. Finally, we had people read real science news items and found that the research was judged to be of higher quality when paired with researchers who look like “good scientists.” Our findings offer insights into the social psychology of science, and indicate a source of bias in the dissemination of scientific findings to broader society.”

Related content:
Attractive people are more likely to get divorced.
Study concludes that conservative politicians are more physically attractive.
Investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by attractive men.

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

    this study found that people judge the quality of a scientist’s research by his/her facial appearance” Economics, Sociology, and Psychology – the King, Queen, and Knave of Idiots. Add them together to achieve Social Intent:

    www(dot)sciencemag(dot)org(slash)news(slash)2017(slash)05(slash)announcing-2017-dance-your-phd-contest

    Diversity is an excuse not a solution.

    • John Anderson

      I would love to see the choreography of Paul Dirac or Wolfgang Pauli.

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  • OWilson

    Actually this study has little to do with science. More to do with mental profiling.

    It is merely a throwback to Plato’s “ideal figures”, or in today’s language, stereotypical models.

    We all have a learned, built in image of what certain groups should look like, from burglars, to pirates, to rock stars, to accountants, to doctors and policemen, even sadly, suicide bombers!

    If you ask 20 people to draw an image of an alien from outer space, you would get a remarkably similarity in images.

    It is the brain’s shortcut to a quick auto response needed in times of danger.

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