June 21, 2019

"We tend to think of our looks as separate from who we are. But it turns out that physical traits like height or attractiveness may shape our personalities, behaviours, even politics."

A BBC article.
One study out of Germany’s University of Göttingen recently reported that of more than 200 men, those who were physically stronger and who had more “macho” bodies – including larger chests and biceps – also tended to be more extroverted, especially in the sense of being more assertive and physically active. The same strength-extroversion association was not found among the women in the study.

Other research has found that physically more formidable men also tend to be more prone to aggression and less neurotic (as in, less fearful and worrisome). Again, this makes sense if you see personality as an adaptive strategy. If you are physically weak, then being cautious and wary of danger is likely to lengthen your lifespan. But if you are physically formidable, you can afford to be more of a risk-taker....

We often think of our personalities and beliefs as reflecting the essence of who we are – whether shy or outgoing, commitment-phobic flirt or devoted partner, left-wing or right-wing. And we like to think that these traits derive from cerebral, moral or even spiritual sources. The idea that these aspects of ourselves might instead, at least in part, reflect a strategic adaptation to our physical size and appearance remains for now a controversial theory....

64 comments:

MayBee said...

This seems like a big "no duh" to me.

Fernandistein said...

Other research has found that physically more formidable men also tend to be more prone to aggression ...

Not news. Are they selling it as news?

And we like to think that these traits derive from cerebral, moral or even spiritual sources.

"We" like to imagine "our" own wonderfulness.

Tank said...

Seems pretty obvious.

My name goes here. said...

If science is going to "discover" that working out and making the male body bigger via muscle leads to different traits, it is just a matter of time before science discovers that there are things a person can do to their body that will manipulate their sexuality.

My name goes here. said...

Charles Atlas could not be reached for comment.

traditionalguy said...

Weight lifters rule. It all starts with keeping a balanced center of gravity. And then Samuel Colt made all men equal.

M Jordan said...

The human soul is the intersection between the physical and the metaphysical. That’s what Jacob’s ladder was all about and it’s what the ekklesia (church) is all about. No doubt our souls are molded by the physical end of this intersection.

And thus is given my theory of intersectionality.

rehajm said...

Men and women are prone to aggression (near my home, just try stepping into the crosswalk in front of a female driver). It's the physical attributes what prevent the weaker ones from acting on it.

n.n said...

Perception does not determine but influence reality.

rhhardin said...

Anything that speaks of "our" and what "we" do is fake news. It's the Psychology Today of science.

It replaces the need for a source.

Wince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim maguire said...

What's controversial about it? How you look affects how others see and interact with you. How others see and interact with you affects how you experience them and how you experience life in general. That's not much of a new finding.

What's really interesting (from one of my favourite podcasts, You Are Not So Smart) is a study about men talking to women on the phone who they don't know. The unsurprising part is how the demeanor of the men varied based on how attractive they had been told the woman is (which, as studies go, was completely unrelated to how attractive the women actually were). What was surprising was how the women changed in response to how the men talked to them, becoming more friendly, outgoing, and confident if the men thought they were beautiful.

Wince said...

Again, this makes sense if you see personality as an adaptive strategy.

Moreover, they seem to measure traits that involve one's observable interaction with the outside world: extroversion, aggression.

But behind all this muscle, brawn and bravado, they just don't see my inner child crying, alone.

Whimper... sorry.

Fernandistein said...

Anything that speaks of "our" and what "we" do is fake news. It's the Psychology Today of science.

I glanced at the article - it was awful.

n.n said...

Sex, gender, faith, religion (and "ethics"), ideology, ego, and incentives.

gilbar said...

this is Lookism, out and out Lookism!
Next you'll be telling us that blondes have more fun

What's next? Telling us that people would rather be with an attractive pleasant girl rather than with a dour, frumpy, man hating bitch? That's SEXIST!

Narr said...

Height is often treated as a proxy for more important attributes. I was a tall kid, so I must have longed for glory on the basketball court. But the only time I played basketball was in gym class, when roundball was on the schedule. It didn't take long for my disinterest and lack of ability to be noticed--and criticized!

An average-sized friend of mine used to complain that his in-laws (at the time) seemed to think their sons were better than him, because they were taller.

One of the things I have always liked about my wife is her voice; she doesn't always make much sense but it has a pleasant timbre; it doesn't surprise me that men and women build pictures of each other based on voice, and that there's a feedback loop.

Narr
6'1"

Birkel said...

This study supports a radically different idea:
Beta-males in polite societies are less likely to suffer the consequences of getting out of line and therefore annoy the fuck out of the alpha-males who have to put up with a lot of shit.

See, e.g. Jim Rome talking smack to Jim Everett

Betas should know better than to antagonize alphas. But they haven't been taught those lessons these days. This will lead to trouble.

BTW, the analysis applies to beta-females too. Some times you need to get popped in the mouth so you don't get horsewhipped later on.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Good God. A thousand times “duh”. Had I known that a living could be made stating the obvious I would chosen a different career path.

Cato Renasci said...

This is, of course, mostly a statement of the obvious: how one looks will affect behavior over time because it affects how people perceive you and treat you. It's a feedback loop.

Similarly, one's physical size, strength, agility, and coordination all work together to reinforce activity or inactivity, the enjoyment of particular sports, and a sense of one's ability to protect oneself or harm others (or lack of that ability). Again, feedback loops.

One often reads of people who are far more attractive or able than they perceive themselves to be, and sometimes of people who are less attractive or able than they perceive (thanks, self-esteem movement!), but those are exceptions and typically the result of ordinary feedback loops not working.

And, of course, the development of character (especially in those who are very attractive and/or with great physical prowess and/or athletic ability) is very much dependent on the messages children and teens receive about the meaning of those gifts and how they should be viewed and used.

If this isn't obvious to anyone, she or he has either read or observed little and absorbed almost nothing.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“Betas should know better than to antagonize alphas. But they haven't been taught those lessons these days. This will lead to trouble.”

Yes, if you’re talking collectively instead of individually, the groundwork has been laid for a whole lot of unintended consequences. The Postwar American Fantasy has convinced a whole lot of folks that we’re immune to history.

William said...

i think God had second thoughts about creating a thorough going coward such as myself and gave me a robust physique to compensate for my lack of character and courage . I've never been especially vulnerable to bullies, but that's probably because I was bigger than most bullies. Bullies tend to be welterweights picking on lightweights. They tend to leave the heavyweights alone....Another advantage is you can reach the stuff up high in supermarkets. Also you can save on rent and live in dodgy neighborhoods. . I suppose you have to spend more on food, but, by and large, it's better to be bigger than smaller.... I've heard that good looks also have some competitive advantages, but I'm unable to argue that from first hand experience.

Francisco D said...

Other research has found that physically more formidable men also tend to be more prone to aggression

Did they control for age and education in their analyses?

I have never felt physically intimidated by other men, nor have I ever tried to physically intimidate another man. That stuff belonged in HS. Only little boys (e.g., Al Gore) try to physically intimidate other men.

rightguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rightguy said...

It seems to me that these learned researchers have stumbled upon an obvious aspect of true human nature.

Birkel said...

Francisco D,
You must not forget "take 'me out to the woodshed" Joe Biden.
Or Smear Merchant and admitted racist, Chuck, fopdoodle extraordinaire.

Al Gore is at least retired from active fuckup-ery.

Henry said...

Spiritual sources? No one messes with this Jesus.

readering said...

German study. How does it apply in the land of a gazillion guns?

Bob said...

MayBee said, "This seems like a big "no duh" to me."

Yep.

An armed society is a polite society. The guys with the smaller arms are wise to be polite to the guys with bigger arms.

wwww said...

Even our gut bacteria biome has a huge effect on brain health and personality. Not surprising muscle mass or testosterone or upright posture or facial expression might have an effect on mental outlook or extraversion.

Narr said...

I bulked out after high-school, and apparently could intimidate people (I have been told, that's all). I am certain that I have prevented violence by 1) a visible willingness to use it, and 2) a visible un-willingness to use it.

But luckily, I haven't had to resort to actual physical force. I have a temper.

Narr
Situational awareness

Otto said...

Duh tell us something we do not know.
"You little wise guy".
Just like any other human being i think some of Ann's behavioral patterns is because of being short.
Don't fret Ann - "it's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog". I am always reminded of that when i see Ann at her age putting out posts 24/7. Like a dog on a bone.

Otto said...

Duh tell us something we don't know.

I always remember an incident when playing football. We were shellacking this team and this undersized sub on the opposing team upon coming into the game and as if psyching himself up said " these guys aren't that big". Seeing fear in his eyes and being a "big wise guy" i said " don't worry we wont hurt you" and just toyed with him for a few plays and then I was taken out of the game.

Roger Sweeny said...

Even more controversial is the idea that both the physical and the personality may be caused by the same (or connected) genes. Bigger, stronger physical bodies do not cause people to develop assertive personalities. Rather, the same things that cause the bodies also cause the mind.

Scott M said...

"We tend to think of our looks as separate from who we are. But it turns out that physical traits like height or attractiveness may shape our personalities, behaviours, even politics."
A BBC article.


First glance take on this is that only an academic would be surprised and only a British academic would waste a "u" :)

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Remember when Germans used to be actual rocket scientists? Good times...

Limited blogger said...

water is wet

Yancey Ward said...

Wow, these were paid for studies.

Yancey Ward said...

I am applying for grant to study whether or not beautiful women are more willing to be Playboy centerfolds. Not at all sure what I am going to find.

gilbar said...

Someone once said:
Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.

mockturtle said...

Testosterone could be involved.

Robert Cook said...

"I have never felt physically intimidated by other men, nor have I ever tried to physically intimidate another man. That stuff belonged in HS. Only little boys (e.g., Al Gore) try to physically intimidate other men."

You don't go to the right bars or hang out in the right neighborhoods.

mockturtle said...

I guess we know where Cookie stands on the spectrum.

William said...

People who have taken advanced calculus classes tell me that their high IQ gave them a leg up in such environs, but I'm not sure if a high IQ is otherwise such a huge advantage. If I had had my choice at the Random Selection supermarket, I would have chosen good health over most things, but strength and good looks would be higher up on the shopping list than smarts, but such a shopping list probably reflects my lack of smarts rather than their objective value.

traditionalguy said...

Interstingly Cookie is unaware of how Labor Unions have always done business. They threaten to beat people. And if that doesn't work, then they beat them real bad.

Yancey Ward said...

Would you rather be Einstein, or would you rather be Mick Jagger?

Narr said...

Mick Einstein! Don't tell me it's not possible.

Narr
World of wonders!

Francisco D said...

You don't go to the right bars or hang out in the right neighborhoods.

You are right, Cookie.

Those places are full of guys who never left high school and cannot afford my favorite Scots whiskey (Lagavullin).

Char Char Binks said...

"Mick Einstein! Don't tell me it's not possible"

Maybe. Word is, Jagger is actually very intelligent, was a top student, and attended the London School of Econ. I also believe he probably never could have gotten a date if he hadn't been a "singer" in a "rock" band. He did all right for himself.

Hey Skipper said...

The book series "Flashman" has long since demonstrated this to a fare-thee-well.

Richard Aubrey said...

See Sheldon's somatotyping. Whether the personality was born in with the build or the build promoted the personality choice, Sheldon thought there was correlation. A shrink told me some years ago that the theory explained too much...and had been discarded.
The body typing is still used.

Bilwick said...

My own personal experience is that after I started lifting weights and transformed my body from thin ectomorph into a more muscular mesomorph, I did get more confident.

Richard Aubrey said...

Bilwick.
I have seen it said that the confidence is felt, if only subliminally, by others.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

So "big dick energy" is a fact--the science is settled.

Francisco D said...

My own personal experience is that after I started lifting weights and transformed my body from thin ectomorph into a more muscular mesomorph, I did get more confident.

That's because you became healthier in mind and body.

I very much doubt that you became more confident because you thought that you could kick ass.

Well, unless you are totally addicted to action movies.

Unknown said...

In Jr high a bunch of us were throwing a football around and another group came up and challenged us to a game. They were all bigger than us (we were the nerdy group) but we had a chip on our shoulder at their attitude. I wouldn't let the lineman opposite me get past me--he was at least 30lbs bigger. He was so shocked. We won. Attitude and determination count for a lot.
All that said, looking fit and active is a good deterrent to trouble. Bigger does help also. However I think the article is wrong about more fit people being more aggressive unless they are counting confidence as aggression.

Narr said...

Flashman rules.

In Paris, at Montmartre, groups of mostly North Africans congregate on the steps and terraces leading to the cathedral and pretty much force tourists to run a gauntlet of clusters of young men who want to shake hands with Americans. They love America! (I was reminded of the old SNL sketch [WSNLWSF] where the gambler pulls the other guy's pot toward him, smiling and proclaiming, "I honor you!")

I told the wife to hold on and don't slow down, and marched through as if they didn't exist. I had everything valuable very close to my chest, of course. Never worry about being rude in such circumstances; they don't want to attract the nearby fuzz who represented probably six or seven security services from obvious plainclothes to Paris cops, to IM troops, to Army to who knows what. If you have to elbow through, the hasslers will NOT complain, just move on to some other prey.

Narr
I have a thing for French women in uniforms, now



Lucien said...

Did I miss the part of the study where they compared personality traits before and after puberty, or before and after adulthood, or athletic or military training? Can it be that successfully undertaking a difficult task that physically transforms you makes you more confident?

Randolf said...

I peaked at 5'11". I tell people that my failure to reach six feet is the reason why I am the bitter and unhappy man I am today! :-)

tim in vermont said...

People who have taken advanced calculus classes tell me that their high IQ gave them a leg up in such environs, but I'm not sure if a high IQ is otherwise such a huge advantage.

Life is full of punishment for the stupid and traps for the intelligent.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

But. but, how can that be true if it's not fair??!! We need a national conversation on this.

Ken said...

Althouse, though no one else is, is shocked to find out her vision of reality isn't correct.

Lurker21 said...

Hmmmm ... and the research was done in Germany ...

Too soon, Germany, too soon ...

Huh said...

I guess this would explain Jerry Nadler.