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Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined

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We all know one hard and undeniable truth: Physical beauty comes with tremendous power, and tremendous benefits. Those who possess it are generally luckier in love, more likely to be popular, and more apt to get better grades in school. But very few of us realize just how much looks affect every aspect of our lives. Recent studies document that people blessed with good loo We all know one hard and undeniable truth: Physical beauty comes with tremendous power, and tremendous benefits. Those who possess it are generally luckier in love, more likely to be popular, and more apt to get better grades in school. But very few of us realize just how much looks affect every aspect of our lives. Recent studies document that people blessed with good looks earn about 10% more than their average-looking colleagues. They are also more likely to get hired and promoted at work. What exactly is this "physical attractiveness" phenomenon and how does it affect each and every one of us? Dr. Gordon L. Patzer has devoted the last 30 years to investigating this unsettling phenomenon for both women and men, and how it touches every part of our lives. In Looks, he reveals not only its impact on romance, but also on family dynamics, performance in school, career, courtroom proceedings, politics and government. Looks is the first book to explore how the power of beauty affects both sexes and how the rise of reality TV shows, cosmetic surgery, and celebrity culture have contributed to our culture's overall obsession with being beautiful. Unflinching and topical, Looks uncovers the sometimes ugly truth about beauty and its profound effects on all of our lives.


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We all know one hard and undeniable truth: Physical beauty comes with tremendous power, and tremendous benefits. Those who possess it are generally luckier in love, more likely to be popular, and more apt to get better grades in school. But very few of us realize just how much looks affect every aspect of our lives. Recent studies document that people blessed with good loo We all know one hard and undeniable truth: Physical beauty comes with tremendous power, and tremendous benefits. Those who possess it are generally luckier in love, more likely to be popular, and more apt to get better grades in school. But very few of us realize just how much looks affect every aspect of our lives. Recent studies document that people blessed with good looks earn about 10% more than their average-looking colleagues. They are also more likely to get hired and promoted at work. What exactly is this "physical attractiveness" phenomenon and how does it affect each and every one of us? Dr. Gordon L. Patzer has devoted the last 30 years to investigating this unsettling phenomenon for both women and men, and how it touches every part of our lives. In Looks, he reveals not only its impact on romance, but also on family dynamics, performance in school, career, courtroom proceedings, politics and government. Looks is the first book to explore how the power of beauty affects both sexes and how the rise of reality TV shows, cosmetic surgery, and celebrity culture have contributed to our culture's overall obsession with being beautiful. Unflinching and topical, Looks uncovers the sometimes ugly truth about beauty and its profound effects on all of our lives.

30 review for Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christina V.

    The main point of the book (as I'm sure you can guess from its subtitle) is that looks are extremely important in life. Each chapter then goes into more detail about how one's PA (physical attractiveness) comes into play when it comes to specific areas of life and the world. For example, some of the chapters include how it affects love and relationships, family dynamics, education, employment, and the law. In all honesty, sometimes I found the book a little repetitive, but I suppose that is beca The main point of the book (as I'm sure you can guess from its subtitle) is that looks are extremely important in life. Each chapter then goes into more detail about how one's PA (physical attractiveness) comes into play when it comes to specific areas of life and the world. For example, some of the chapters include how it affects love and relationships, family dynamics, education, employment, and the law. In all honesty, sometimes I found the book a little repetitive, but I suppose that is because of the nature of the argument. I knew in every chapter that Patzer was driving home the point that looks matter. In every study that he mentioned, I knew what the outcome would be. So, in that sense, it was slightly predictable. Some of the chapters also included things which I already knew, like its evolutionary basis, and I also was not convinced of some of his arguments, particularly his discussion on education. (But that might be because it's a touchy subject since I'm a teacher?) There were a couple of chapters on the dangers of what he terms "lookism," (discrimination based on one's physical attractiveness) which talked about body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia, and bulimia, but I felt it wasn't as informative or detailed as it could have been. However, I did learn some interesting facts from reading the book. I already suspected that looks mattered and was always subconsciously in the decisions, but I didn't realize the extent until I read the book. I also appreciated the message that Patzer includes at the end. He recognizes that we cannot control the way that we look and we cannot control the media, who perpetuate unrealistic beauty ideals, but we CAN control the way that we react to it. We can educate our youth early to think critically about advertisements, TV, and magazine images/messages and we can consciously remind ourselves not to compare our bodies and looks with those of celebrities and other highly attractive people. When we are in a position of power, we must make sure that our decisions and expectations are objective and based on a person's proven ability, not their outside appearance. If the book had just been about how much looks affect one's life, then it would have been depressing, but I really appreciated the hint of positivity and the possibility of change at the end.

  2. 5 out of 5

    The

    I'm totally biased because I adore this author. We had a long email back and forth since last summer and I find him lovely, charming and a damn fine writer. And believe me, I hate just about everyone and everything. He's a messager you don't really want to shoot. It's all there in the research. Looks matter and people are notorious for attributing positive qualities based on nothing but a person's appearance. I observed this phenom in college where I was surrouned by some of the stupidest people I'm totally biased because I adore this author. We had a long email back and forth since last summer and I find him lovely, charming and a damn fine writer. And believe me, I hate just about everyone and everything. He's a messager you don't really want to shoot. It's all there in the research. Looks matter and people are notorious for attributing positive qualities based on nothing but a person's appearance. I observed this phenom in college where I was surrouned by some of the stupidest people on earth, exhaulted on a regular basis for all kinds of unremarkableness. And this book talks all about that. Some of his arguments are a little flawed, but I like reading his thoughts. I also enjoy feeling smug about sticking to the pretty people and actively resisting the "Halo Effect".

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I find this subject fascinating. Study after study reveals how shallow people really are when it comes to looks. It seems almost hardwired, as even newborns prefer good looking people. The study results were informative, surprising and depressing, but really made me think about my physical presentation more than ever. Guess I'll continue to bleach my hair after all. I find this subject fascinating. Study after study reveals how shallow people really are when it comes to looks. It seems almost hardwired, as even newborns prefer good looking people. The study results were informative, surprising and depressing, but really made me think about my physical presentation more than ever. Guess I'll continue to bleach my hair after all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sylvester

    It's a pretty simple popular science book citing psychological research on physical attractiveness and how it affects people. Nothing is really disputed here, but it is rather superficial in terms of the writing. It's a pretty simple popular science book citing psychological research on physical attractiveness and how it affects people. Nothing is really disputed here, but it is rather superficial in terms of the writing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    With Butterflies

    Eh. It was interesting from several standpoints, but I'm not sure I buy it completely. I don't deny that we're all judged on looks every day, but I'm not sure all of the data reported is completely honest. The author's selective data suggests that looks are more important than any other factor, and I respectfully disagree. Still, a worthwhile read. Eh. It was interesting from several standpoints, but I'm not sure I buy it completely. I don't deny that we're all judged on looks every day, but I'm not sure all of the data reported is completely honest. The author's selective data suggests that looks are more important than any other factor, and I respectfully disagree. Still, a worthwhile read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Hamilton

    Book did a good job on covering the aspects of looks in a socialistic standpoint for its time. I think that the book could have covered more on social theories in the text as well as empirical evidence. I felt like it relied heavily on qualitative studied versus quantitative studies. But then again my memory might be a little hazy as it has been a few years...but that was what my initial takeaway was. But I did enjoy the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    read the introduction & this book is totally only skin deep. To write a book telling people looks are better than brains is really crappy & low, so superficial. Thanks for telling us average beauties that we're doomed because we're not super models or barbies. read the introduction & this book is totally only skin deep. To write a book telling people looks are better than brains is really crappy & low, so superficial. Thanks for telling us average beauties that we're doomed because we're not super models or barbies.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Fox

    Basically Crap The first half seemed to be based on evolutionary psychology and scientific research on why folks hate fuglies. It was okay. The second half read like something they give panicky teenage girls to read: OMG you're beautiful just the way you are and OMG anorexia kills and OMG people die from breast implants! Not that the first half of the book was so great, but I didn't expect the second half to turn into a PSA. By PSA given to impressionable youths, I mean anecdotal horror stories. Basically Crap The first half seemed to be based on evolutionary psychology and scientific research on why folks hate fuglies. It was okay. The second half read like something they give panicky teenage girls to read: OMG you're beautiful just the way you are and OMG anorexia kills and OMG people die from breast implants! Not that the first half of the book was so great, but I didn't expect the second half to turn into a PSA. By PSA given to impressionable youths, I mean anecdotal horror stories. Sensational tales of unlicensed doctors butchering patients belong on Dateline, not in a book like this. I don't think the real danger of "lookism" is that people die under the knife (actual deaths are rare), or are terribly disfigured. Maybe it's that this stuff costs money? Looks matter; and poor folks, already operating at a disadvantage, are likely to look 50 at 50, whereas wealthier folks can look 40 at 50, prolonging and increasing their advantage. This bent, or anything other than a lame PSA, would have made for a better second half.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    malaysia book #3. This book fleshes out an idea that we all know: physical attractiveness matters in most realms of life and affect and affects most aspects of our judgments about people. I thought the last half was not nearly as engaging and though provoking as the first half where the author really lays out his argument. If anything, I see how my confidence in how I look has ramifications for my overall self confidence and success, though really makes it suck to be unattractive. Damn that natu malaysia book #3. This book fleshes out an idea that we all know: physical attractiveness matters in most realms of life and affect and affects most aspects of our judgments about people. I thought the last half was not nearly as engaging and though provoking as the first half where the author really lays out his argument. If anything, I see how my confidence in how I look has ramifications for my overall self confidence and success, though really makes it suck to be unattractive. Damn that natural selection, until the world is full of beautiful people.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The first half seems to suggest that if I don't have good looks, I'm out of luck. The second half convinces me I'd rather go without luck than deal with the complications and prices of cosmetic surgery. A worthy book for a society who sees no dangers with rampant lookism. The first half seems to suggest that if I don't have good looks, I'm out of luck. The second half convinces me I'd rather go without luck than deal with the complications and prices of cosmetic surgery. A worthy book for a society who sees no dangers with rampant lookism.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Cranney

    I have a hard time accepting psychology studies that have extremely small sample sizes, so I took a lot of what this author said with a grain of salt. That said, he does a decent job of arguing that lookism is a pernicious problem that deserves more overt attention.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I found the actual data to be very persuasive, but the writing is so bad as to be almost unreadable. I put it down repeatedly because I was so frustrated with the author's hokey idioms, badly constructed paragraphs, and incessant exclamation points. I found the actual data to be very persuasive, but the writing is so bad as to be almost unreadable. I put it down repeatedly because I was so frustrated with the author's hokey idioms, badly constructed paragraphs, and incessant exclamation points.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    really interesting insight

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tian

    A series of pop-psychology articles collected into book. Considering the fraud scandals that have plagued the social psychology in the past few years, I would take these claims with a grain of salt.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was fascinating but parts felt redundant. The studies were really interesting and some of the findings were unexpected.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    This book looks interesting to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rose

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  19. 4 out of 5

    Woo Lee

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Devine

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathon Lopez-pitts

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diogo

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

  26. 4 out of 5

    Romeo Castorena

  27. 5 out of 5

    Flat

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dung Beetle

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aron Cook

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hoàng Trường

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