Study: Pretty People Are More Selfish

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For those blessed with good looks, it’s “my way or the highway.” And what a beautiful way it is. (via Guardian)

New research suggests that people with symmetrical facial features tend to be selfish and are less likely to cooperate with others. Facial symmetry is believed to have a large hand in how people perceive aesthetic beauty and physical attractiveness.

For these reasons, The Guardian reports that Kate Moss, George Clooney, Natalie Portman and other people famous for being beautiful might not be “perfect life partners.” (As if we even had a chance.)

(LIST: In the Eye of the Beholder: Strange Beauty Pageants)

The study, published in the journal Economics and Human Biology and compiled by Edinburgh University researchers, claims that attractive people are not only selfish by nature, but also more self-sufficient. They are less likely to ask for help, which kind of debunks that whole damsel-in-distress stereotype.

Santiago Sanchez-Pages, who is affiliated with universities in Barcelona and Edinburgh, and Enrique Turiegano, of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, studied their participants by offering them the option of being a dove that cooperates for the greater good, or a hawk, which apparently signifies a more selfish bird. Based on their choices, the participants’ faces were analyzed.

Surely, our cultural fascination with beauty grants exquisite-looking people all sorts of privileges. But the study claims that people with symmetrical faces have an even greater advantage: superior health. According to the researchers, symmetrical physical attributes aren’t just considered attractive because the person’s face isn’t lopsided. Even on a subconscious level, symmetry is viewed as a sign of “good health,” a trait that, for obvious reasons, appeals to those looking to procreate with long term partners. Earlier studies have also suggested that people with symmetrical mugs experience fewer congenital diseases.

Ian Deary, a professor from the Scotland university’s department of psychology, told the Daily Mail: “Symmetry in the face is thought to be a marker of what is called developmental stability: the body’s ability to withstand environmental stressors and not be knocked off its developmental path.”

The study’s findings will be presented at the annual Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany later this month.

MORE: Study: The Rich Really Are More Selfish

Kai Ma is a TIME contributor. Find her on Twitter at @Kai_Ma or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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