The dating world is cruel. No matter how much we stress the importance of “inner beauty” and kindness and a sense of humor, looks are undeniably a big asset in the dating game. It’s the dream of every average-looking guy that, having been rejected by a handsome beau, the beautiful woman he admires from afar will realize her error in judgment and take notice of him.
Well, dream on, because this scenario is highly unlikely, according to newly published research.
The study, which focused on the responses 126 female undergraduates had after romantic rejection, was led by University of Toronto (Canada) psychologist Geoff MacDonald. Researchers found that “rejection by an attractive man also led to derogation of, and distancing from, an unattractive man – even when that unattractive man offered acceptance.” In other words, after being rejected by a hunk, women were found to be more inclined to reject a less attractive man.
The likely reason, the researchers write in the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science”, is that accepting the affection of a “low-status” person “may imply one is of similarly low status,” thus making the pain caused by the initial rejection even worse.
The implication here is obvious: Looks are closely associated with status, at least in the dating world.
Pacific Standard magazine writes the 126 test subjects were asked to look at two made-up profiles, one of a good-looking guy, the other of an unattractive one. They were told that they could potentially meet these two men at the end of the experiment.
The women then received feedback from each of the men indicating whether they wanted to meet. The women were then asked to indicate whether they were interested in meeting each man, and rated both in terms of physical attractiveness and romantic appeal.
Not surprisingly, the women who were rejected by one of the men gave him lower ratings. The researchers think that their reasoning probably went like this: If he doesn’t want me, he can’t be that great anyway.
But surprisingly, “participants who were rejected by the attractive man were also relatively uninterested in meeting the unattractive man,” write the researchers. What’s more, they were also more inclined to evaluate the unattractive man harshly.
What is the reason for this? MacDonald told academic publishing company Sage Publications: “What people want is not immediate acceptance itself, but a sense of assurance that the person is acceptable to the sorts of people they want to be connected to.”
Isn’t that a bit shallow? As if romance is all about face and what other people think. But of course, the researchers based their conclusion on perceptions of college students.
We can console ourselves that, as we grow more mature, we may realize status can be conveyed by means other than physical appearance. Or maybe we will grow more confident and begin to realize true love is more important than the opinions of our peers.