It’s not enough to be good looking in order to be happier than the regular “ugly” folks. You also need to think about how much better looking you are than the rest of the mundane population.
A new paper in the Journal of Happiness Studies tried to see whether levels of happiness had something to do with how attractive people think they are.
Lukasz Kaczmarek and colleagues at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland asked 97 students to fill out two questionnaires measuring their life satisfaction and body satisfaction. The order of the questions was randomized, and half started the questionnaire answering about life satisfaction and the other half began with questions about body satisfaction.
The results? People who had more confidence in their looks tended to be happier than those thinking they were less attractive, but only if they answered the body satisfaction questions first. From that, the researchers concluded that thinking about one aspect of our lives first, in this case how attractive we are, tends to dominate our feelings in such a way that it assumes a disproportionate importance in the moment. The paper concludes: Body satisfaction as a focusing illusion may need to be considered by scientists as well as lay people who try to look better and be happier.
When having to think about how good their life is (or isn’t) without the questionnaire directing them to think about how good looking they are, those beautiful people suddenly didn’t seem so happy. One might also conclude that attractive people may not be that smart if they need some scientist telling them to think about how good looking they are compared to the rest us in order to feel happy.