David Morin

How Your Looks Affect Your Social Life

I often see statements like

“Looks don’t matter”

“It’s the inside that counts”

This frustrates me because it’s not true.

In reality, looks do matter (and everyone knows it). The first moment, the first second when we meet someone, our looks are all that matters. After all, that’s the only way people can perceive someone they just met.

But already seconds into a meeting with a new person other things start to matter. How’s our body language? Do we act in a way that’s warm or hostile?

Still, at this moment, the good-looking person might win over the not-so-good-looking one.

But as we start talking, our personality becomes more and more important. It soon comes to the point where it’s even more important than our looks.

A quick check among our own friends can confirm this:

  • Have you ever stopped keeping in touch with a friend because you didn’t stand that person’s personality? (Probably yes)
  • Have you ever stopped keeping in touch after a while because of that person’s looks? (Probably not)

In fact, our personality gets more and more important in a relation as the years pass by. A person who’s just slightly annoying after a few weeks of hanging out can be unbearable after a few years.

If you meet a person who is a bad listener or talks too much, you might barely think about it the first day you hang out. Then, after a few weeks of hanging out, it occasionally makes you annoyed. After a few months, maybe you’re so annoyed that you rather hang out with other friends.

 

This diagram is based on three studies where students rated the likability of their classmates both at the beginning and at the end of the semester. At the beginning, looks and social status won. At the end of the semester, the ratings were drastically different: Those who were the most skilled had become the most popular.

What we can learn from this is that no matter our looks, it always pays off to improve our personality.  

Don’t get me wrong. Looks aren’t irrelevant.

You want to look your best if you want to create a good first impression. (Some well fitting clothes and a haircut will take you far).

But personality soon becomes more important than looks. That’s something we tend to forget.

A friend of mine works at one of the larger consultancy firms. He told me about an unofficial strategy that they use when they hire. It’s called the Airport Test.

They asked themselves one question before hiring someone.

“Would I want to be stuck in an airport with this person?”

The point of the test is that you don’t want to work with someone that would annoy you.

This shows how important it is to be socially skilled, not just in private, but also in your career. Sure, the qualifications need to be there, but after that, social skills can be a deal breaker.

So in summary

  1. Looks are important (and can be improved dramatically quite easily)
  2. Your social skills and ability to bond with people when you make conversation is way more important than your looks

And that’s great news.

No matter your starting point, you’ll be able to make dramatic improvements in conversations in the coming weeks.

Share your comments below!

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Comments (17)

  1. Jacob

    I find these tips pretty useful and easily applicable, in just about any social situation. Yet I can’t help but think of those few individuals who will look at certain others and try to hunt them down out of jealousy. What I’m mainly concerned about, at this point, is being able to deal with the increasing amount of envy that could arise from improving one’s overall status, including both their looks and their social skills.

    • Viktor Sander

      Interesting thought. I think you’ll discover that 90-99%+ of the reactions you get will be neutral or positive. The only problem is if your family or social circle is toxic and negative, then I can see that it will be considerably harder to make positive changes. Social skills generally make you more pleasant and interesting to talk with, regardless of who you talk with, so that’s why there will be very few negative reactions from improved social skills. Looks and status are not as clearcut, but generally positive there too.

  2. Alli

    I really enjoy these emails, thanks so much for them! With that being said I agree with the things said in this email, looks don’t matter but I feel like in the grand scheme of things I would rather have a friendship built on someone who has substance and a personality, than someone who just looks good and is bland!

  3. Debra

    I agree, however, if you are good looking your bad behavior seems to be tolerated a lot longer then if you are not good looking. Personality does take you further in the end.

  4. Anonymous

    I love these emails. Thank you! Hopefully I could employ all of these ideas and become the person that I’ve always wanted to be.

  5. Anonymous

    The are really nice tips although could tell tips to imprees some girl

  6. Junveen

    Hi David thank you for your mails I’m trying to improve myself but I want to ask you one thing I don’t know why I get nervous around the people I know from a very long time like my family.my heart started beating faster and my voice changes

  7. Mia

    This is brilliant. Thank you so much for the information you provide. And – how did you come by these ideas?

    • Hi Mia! We’ve worked on our material for over 5 years now and we try to pick the best pieces for you. Initially we find most of our ideas by scouring scientific databases for studies in social psychology. Then we combine what we learn there with our own experience. So glad you like it!

    • Anonymous

      Ask girls (including yourself if you’re a girl) how many guys you got physical with that weren’t equal or better looking than you (not counting if they’re rich)?

      Many women offer sex to criminals they never met (if they’re good looking) & offer to pay their bail to “get raped” by them (Example: Jeremy Meeks, who then became a male model) while many ugly guys with better character, confidence etc. are dismissed based on looks & judged as having less character/confidence, etc. (the Halo effect) & usually, they eventually have less confidence/personality.

      Women pretend looks don’t matter but dismiss below average looking men regardless of personality, many studies confirm. Example: livescience.com/58607-mens-looks-may-matter-more-than-personality.html

      Studies show attractive people hired sooner, get promotions more quickly, and are paid more. Source: businessinsider.com/attractive-people-are-more-successful-2012-9

  8. Anonymous

    You have really encouraged me.

  9. RANGA RAO MANDUVA

    Yes, You are absolutely correct and I will try to adopt.

  10. Hopeson Monyo

    You have being a blessing to me. What we look at speak well of us.

  11. Sarah K

    Thanks David, this makes me feel a bit better about my looks. I’ve always been self conscious about my nose, it’s kind of big. But as you say, it doesn’t really matter that much once you get to know someone.

    • David Morin

      You’re right! 🙂

    • Anonymous

      looks matter more than people want to admit.

  12. Hey David, pretty clear graph! Makes sense, though the timescale is a bit unconventional. Can agree that personality is the long term success factor. If only by looking at what kind of people I keep in my life. What other factors would you say are important?