The Ugly Truth

[Something I want to make very clear: I don’t endorse what I talk about here. I don’t think this is necessarily good, right, or fair. But I do think what I talk about here is true, at least most of the time.]

What is the most powerful way to improve how people treat you? What is the most powerful way to make more friends, date more people, have more career success, and have people treat you nicely wherever you go?

Maybe you should improve your social skills? Social skills are incredibly valuable, and they will improve your interactions with people – but there is an even more powerful way to improve how people treat you, one that allows people with terrible social skills to be treated well.

Maybe you should build and master skills in general? Mastering a skill (especially a popular or admirable skill) will earn respect from many people – but there is an even more powerful way to improve how people treat you, one that allows people with no skills at all to be treated well.

Maybe you should make more money, and have people admire you for your wealth? Money can make you (superficially) more popular – but there is an even more powerful way to improve how people treat you, one that doesn’t require being wealthy (even if being wealthy makes it easier).

Most of these methods are hard. Most of them aren’t fast. But there is a way to improve how people treat you that is incredibly powerful, can be much faster than other ways, and works even if you have little money, bad social skills, or no skills of any kind.

Here’s the ugly truth:

The most powerful way to improve how people treat you is to become more physically attractive.

The Halo Effect

Maybe you’ve heard of the Halo Effect (No, not that Halo. Not that Halo either). It’s a cognitive bias where positive opinions about one area of something tend to lead to positive opinions about other areas of that thing. With people, it means that the more attractive a person is, the more likely the people around them will assume they have other positive qualities.

Based on what I’ve seen, it means that attractive people have advantages in life, in areas that have nothing to do with being attractive.

Attractive people will get more dates – not just due to sex appeal (that part’s obvious), but also due to people assuming they have qualities of a great partner, even thought there’s no reason to believe that.

Attractive people will make more friends – not just from people who value attractive friends or secretly want to date them, but from people assuming they are better people.

Attractive people will be more likely to get a job offer – not just in jobs that require being attractive, but also in jobs that have nothing to do with appearance, due to the employer assuming they are more intelligent or a hard worker. On top of that, jobs that require being attractive will ignore negative qualities to get the most attractive candidate.

Attractive people will have their social skills be less of an issue – to a degree. Attractive people are more likely to be frequently approached by others (women especially, but men too), meaning they’ll meet new people regardless of their actual social skills. Also, attractive people will be forgiven more often for any social mistakes they make.

Attractive people will have their negative qualities forgiven in general. An attractive person can potentially be selfish, unintelligent, bigoted, violent, lazy, or a number of other negative qualities, and there will still be people who want to be around them. Obviously there are limits to how much being attractive will make people forgive your negative qualities – that said, if being attractive can make people ignore the fact that you’re a violent convicted felon, who knows what the limits really are?

What Now?

I want to be clear here: I’m not saying this is fair, or the way things should be – I’m trying to say that this is how it is, without justifying or resenting it. In a perfect world, attractive people wouldn’t be assumed to be more intelligent, hard working, or ethical than less attractive people.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

If you want to be a high quality person (things like virtue, intelligence, and other merits) you should absolutely become one – just be aware that having your positive qualities recognized will be harder if you’re less attractive. If you’re less attractive, many people will ignore your positive qualities, and may even accentuate your negative qualities due to the Horn Effect (the opposite of the Halo Effect).

Maybe you’re in my boat – not a model or a saint/genius, but you still want to be treated well and have your positive qualities recognized. The way I see it, you have three options:

  1. Keep being less attractive (or just not a model), even if it means people won’t recognize your great qualities as often.
  2. Hope that all humans become enlightened in the near future, overcoming biases like the Halo Effect.
  3. Become more attractive.

The first is what most people do. The second isn’t happening anytime soon. The third is proactive, trying to improve your life rather than reacting or hoping.

I can’t really give advice on being more attractive, beyond generic advice. It’s not that I’m ugly (maybe I am, who knows?), I’m just not an expert. Honestly, you probably have a better idea of what you can do to make yourself more attractive – and which ways of changing your appearance are consistent with your culture or identity.

Again: in a perfect world, being attractive would only matter to a few specific areas, and attractive people wouldn’t be seen as smarter or more ethical just because they look nice. I am NOT saying you should ignore every aspect of your self-development in favor of making yourself more attractive.

I’m saying this: if you become more attractive, life will be easier, and more people will recognize your good qualities more often.