A baby is born and in less than three days the baby will imitate simple behaviors like smiling, frowning, and sticking her tongue out. Within a few more days the baby gains a clear vision of her environment and she now is able to focus on people, easily distinguishing Mom from other people. When Mom leaves the room and the baby is shown picture after picture of stranger after stranger, the baby looks at those photographs of people who are physically attractive for a much longer time than those people in the photographs who aren’t physically attractive. The desire to look at beautiful people (and symmetrical objects, by the way) is pre-wired into the little babies brain.
There are more distinctions in the infants observational patterns. The infant prefers looking at faces that are smiling to those with a scowl or frown. This response is also pre-wired into the infant.
Even more startling though is the behavior of the Mother with the baby. Mothers of babies who are perceived as attractive are more likely to gaze at their baby and allow no distractions from the world around her. Mothers of babies who are perceived (independently) as unattractive are more likely to be cared for in the sense of having their diaper changed, being burped and fed, with secondary attention paid to the babies face.
The Mother, of course, is unaware of her behavior contrasted with other Mothers as her behavior to gaze at that which is beautiful was pre-wired in at her birth as well. The experience of the enjoyment of beauty begins in the gene and is further shaped in infancy…
It appears one reason that most children are perceived as beautiful by their parents is that the perception acts as a survival mechanism for the baby. What else would stop us from acting out when the little one is prone to endlessly whine? (There is more than the irresistibility of the infant but it is a very good thing the baby is irresistible!)
Throughout nature the beautiful and colorful animals of a species fare better in mating, survival and acquisition of resources. This includes humans. One recent study showed that most of the wealth acquired by women in the world today is acquired by the most attractive women. Some of this wealth is acquired through inheritance, some through marriage and some through the woman’s work.
The survival instinct is strong in women and the genes that shape a woman’s beauty and her response to beauty encourage her to optimize her appearance. This has been true for millions of years. Today, Madison Avenue exploits this survival instinct and women drive the cosmetics and “look good” industry to being one of the most important industries in the world. The cosmetic industry employs more people than most industries in the world. In Brazil, there are more Avon reps than military personnel. The business of looking good continues into the 21st century some two million years after it began…and it’s still going strong.
Madison Avenue didn’t create beauty though…nor does Madison Avenue set the standard of beauty. Far from it. There are over two dozen countries in the world that place a higher value on physical attractiveness than do Americans. Typically these cultures do so because attractiveness is often a clue as to the healthiness of a spouse Countries that are disease ridden, especially parasitic disease, are homes to individuals aspiring to mate with physically attractive people.
Volumes of research reveal that girls and women who are perceived as attractive get better grades on tests, earn more money on the job, and marry husbands with more resources (money and education, generally) than other women. Something seems politically incorrect about all of this but the facts speak loudly. The physical attractiveness factor is important in relationships, culture and the survival of the species…of all species.
Among men in military academies, those that are physically attractive tend to go on to better careers than those who are average or perceived as unattractive. There is also a preference for attractive men, by women, upon initial contact but this preference isn’t as great as other traits considered desirable by women.
It is interesting to note that attractive people tend to be more at ease and confident in social settings than others. This is probably because of all of the positive traits unconsciously ascribed to these individuals by everyone else in the environment. If people constantly approach someone with the same positive, smiling outlook toward that person (the physically attractive individual) the person is likely to develop the typical verbal and nonverbal responses to that behavior. This means that an almost self fulfilling prophecy happens in attractive people…and they don’t even know it.
On the other hand, standardized tests show that attractive girls/women score no better or worse than unattractive ones. Only when grading is subjective does attractiveness play a role.
A problem ultimately arises in this world that is run by personal appearance. Attractive women often find themselves strongly disliking and avoiding the company of other attractive women. It appears that this is a survival instinct as no one wants to lose access to their resources. Staying away from attractive women allows there to be less competition when being observed by their mate. We all try and control our environment that we live and work in. The means and objectives are often very different between men and women.
Attractiveness is important to men and women in social settings but it is definitely more important to men in almost all countries of the world except Sweden and Poland, where physical attractiveness requirements are similar between men and women. With these two countries being the exception, men place a higher value on attractiveness than women and these facts directly change both nonverbal and spoken communication encounters.
Once you understand the gravity of your appearance and that it changes the minds, desires and thoughts of everyone you interact with you discover you have an opportunity to improve all future relationships and communication opportunities.
It’s very important to look as good as you can. This might mean using make up or not but it probably more often means, keeping your weight down. A small waist has shown to be a big factor in how people evaluate other people. Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes and other illnesses including cancer. We’ve all been wired to have a compulsion to invest our lives with healthy people, especially those we are going to mate with.
Now, how do we apply all of this information into the communication and compliance gaining situation? Next time, we’ll look at just that question.