A Reason to Smile

Beautiful people with ugly personalities—are not so pretty.

By Jeff Howe, published March 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Ever notice that beautiful people with ugly personalities seem to become less and less attractive with time? According to Leslie Zebrowitz, of Brandeis University, that's because they do. When Zebrowitz compared personality tests taken by men and women over time with ratings of their attractiveness by objective observers, she discovered that men judged physically appealing in their youth were most likely to be sociable, agreeable adults. No surprise there. But women who had been gregarious as teens were deemed better-looking in their fifties than their aloof, unfriendly peers, regardless of their original physical appeal. These findings, says Zebrowitz, run contrary to the popular notion that physical beauty has greater social consequences for women than for men. Says Zebrowitz: "It seems that the way a man looks influences the kind of personality he develops, but the kind of person a woman is influences the kind of appearance she develops."