The influence of intelligence on the endorsement of the intelligence–attractiveness halo

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While some theories emphasize the influence of the ‘attractiveness halo’ on perceptions of intelligence, empirical evidence suggests that perceptions of attractiveness themselves can be influenced by perceptions of other desired traits such as intelligence. In an educational context, the effect of impressions of intelligence on teachers' expectations of students gives them particular significance. Research on kin selection and cognitive biases highlight the possibility that intelligent people endorse the intelligence–attractiveness relationship more strongly than less intelligent people. We investigated how a perceiver's intelligence can influence the association between perceived intelligence and attractiveness of others. We asked 126 participants to rate 48 children's faces for perceived intelligence and attractiveness and then asked them to complete the International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR) intelligence test. Ratings by participants who scored higher on the intelligence test showed a stronger relationship between perceptions of intelligence and attractiveness than participants who scored lower on the intelligence test. This effect was significant even after controlling for differences in participants' scale use. These findings, while preliminary, illuminate an individual difference that influences perceptions of intelligence with potentially concerning implications regarding expectancy effects in educational settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162 - 167
Number of pages6
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date27 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Attractiveness halo
  • Attractiveness
  • Bias
  • Perception


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