But a recent study from the brainy folks at PLOS suggests that not only are humans superficial and shallow, but we're also easily manipulated (SURPRISE!). So what did we do to deserve such labels this time? Well, to date, face research has been mostly focused on what we might call natural beauty - face shape, size, symmetry, configuration, and movement of facial features - but until the PLOS team recently took it on, scientists hadn't actually ventured into how grooming, styling, and makeup affected how we judge our proverbial book covers. Oh, science. You so crazy.
For humans, clothes, makeup, scents, etc. serve as our version of "signaling," essentially the equivalent of a peacock's fanned-out tail feathers or a baboon's big swollen red butt. For the purposes of this study, the focus was the use of colored cosmetics, and the results were staggering … so you can only imagine what hair style, jewelry, and clothes might add to the equation.
What does your makeup say about you? And more importantly, how can you now manipulate science to your advantage and get people to give you what you want?
Here's the skinny: adult men and women were shown images of female models ages 20-50 in various states of makeup. They were permitted to view the images for either 250 milliseconds for a snap judgement, or for an unlimited amounts of time for inspection. On a quick look, cosmetics has a "significant positive effect on all outcomes." When allowed to take a longer look, makeup still heavily affected whether models were deemed competent or attractive, but likeability and trust were impacted more on longer inspection. What does it all mean? In short, your makeup is speaking volumes before you open your mouth.
1. Au Natural: More Trustworthy, Less Attractive
Not a fan of the makeup? More likely to buy a tinted moisturizer than a full coverage foundation? You'll be seen as trustworthy, but less confident on a book-cover judgement. (About 40% of American women over 18 reported that they wear no makeup.) Models with no makeup at all were seriously dinged in the "attractiveness" category, and in fact scored lower across the board on both the 250 millisecond and the unlimited viewings. (For the record, I'm in public wearing no makeup while I write this, but I'm second guessing that decision.)
2. Just a Touch of Color: Competent and Like-able
If you're a fan of the natural look, but enhance what nature gave you with products, you're likely to be viewed as competent, trustworthy, and like-able
3. Makeup Maven: Attractive and Likeable
It's not especially surprising that women who wear more makeup are viewed as more attractive, but I was surprised to see just how much higher faces that were professionally made up scored in terms of attractiveness and like-ability.
Notably, facial contrast was rated as one of the highest indicators of attractiveness, something makeup is often used to enhance, and an attribute that is regarded as distinctly female.
4. Glamourpuss: Most Attractive, Less Trustworthy
Highly skilled with a brow brush? You're most likely going to rank well across the board for confidence, competence, and attractiveness. Models wearing more dramatic makeup were ranked significantly higher in the attractiveness category than those with little or no makeup, but on longer inspection, took a serious hit where trustworthiness was concerned.
You know what they say ... wear lipstick, be viewed as a criminal mastermind.
-By Morgan Shanahan