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Being generous makes you seem more physically attractive, study finds

Researchers say consumers also tend to expect attractive people to be more giving

Photo (c) monkeybusinessimages - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from Indiana University explored how being generous can affect how others perceive you. Their work revealed that not only are more generous people typically viewed as more attractive, but the opposite was also true: Those who were seen as more attractive were more likely to be more generous. 

“Poets and philosophers have suggested the link between moral and physical beauty for centuries,” said researcher Sara Konrath. “This study confirms that people who are perceived as more attractive are more likely to give and givers are seen as more attractive.” 

People are attracted to generosity 

To understand how attractiveness and generosity are linked, the researchers analyzed results from three different studies that included responses from participants of all different ages. The researchers’ overarching goal was to have participants rate other people’s attractiveness without knowing anything about their background or personality. Their second goal was to assess whether attractive people are more or less likely to be altruistic. 

Participants were also asked about which traits they typically find attractive in other people, which helped the researchers determine how physical attractiveness stacked up against other attributes. 

Regardless of age, the findings showed that attractiveness and generosity are undeniably linked. The study revealed that consumers are more likely to expect people they find attractive to be more generous, and being generous, regardless of physical appearance, was an attractive trait to the majority of the participants. 

Researcher Femida Handy explained that “despite being conducted at different times, using different participants, and using different methods and measures,” the outcome was clear across all three studies. 

The next beauty trend?

Moving forward, the researchers hope that these findings spark a new wave of generosity among consumers. Considering how highly so many of the participants rated generosity as an attractive trait, these findings could ignite positive changes for the future. 

“Our findings suggest that beauty products and procedures may not be the only way to enhance an individual’s attractiveness,” Konrath said. “Perhaps being generous could be the next beauty trend.” 

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