I just finished this excellent and thought-provoking book: Sensation: The New Science of Physical Intelligence by Thalma Lobel. As you can imagine from the title, the book opens our eyes to how our senses — touch, smell, sight, etc — can influence our behavior and perspectives. I also love the book because, while it’s clearly based on a rigorous analysis of psychological experiments, Lobel is still able to reveal her insights in an entertaining way.
What does this have to do with Beautyskew? As you can imagine, our senses will also affect our judgements of beauty and ugliness.
It’s been known for a while that red makes women (not necessarily men) seem more attractive. This book shows how and why. Even more interesting, though, is that red, when used in other circumstances, e.g., test covers or notes in margins, negatively affects us and our responses to those tests or feedback!
Another interesting fact, white clothing makes people seem friendlier than black, and that height affects our belief in people’s abilities to lead.
And if you want to feel friendlier towards others or vice versa, drink something warm in their presence!
For so long our perceptions of beauty have been thought to be associated with evolutionary needs (e.g., symmetrical faces signal health which is important to ensure healthy offspring) or cultural norms (e.g., tans are a sign of leisurely lifestyles and wealth). But what Lobel also shows is how much we are influenced by the physical senses that surround us everyday.
I urge you to read this book not only to learn about yourselves and what may unconsciously influence your behavior, but also to help you decide when to let or not let those senses drive us.