Aesthetic capital

Authored by: Sylvia Holla , Giselinde Kuipers

Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415855112
eBook ISBN: 9780203740248
Adobe ISBN: 9781135008895


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Beauty comes with benefits. There are the obvious perks, such as sexual attractiveness and a desire on the part of others to seek out the company of good-looking people. But people are also inclined to associate ‘good looks’ with other positive qualities, from moral goodness to economic success. Social psychologists call this the ‘halo effect’: the assumption that persons with visible desirable traits also have other, maybe less visible, positive qualities (Nisbett and Wilson 1977; Kaplan 1978). The belief that beautiful people are better than others can be found around the world and in all eras. In present-day societies, research has shown that people who are deemed more attractive tend to have higher wages, more durable relationships, higher grades and better assessments (Andreoni and Petrie 2008). Thus, physical attractiveness comes with many rewards, also in fields that at first glance have nothing to do with physical appearance.

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