July 17, 2008

Beauty map of London

This is the kind of quantitative study that I really like. There is so much anecdotal talk and debate about whether people from this region/country/continent/class/religion etc. are more beautiful/attractive/intelligent/etc. but with the exception of IQ and personality traits, I have seen very little quantitative evidence for these assertions.

Like g where an individual's correlated performance in multiple test items allows us to extract a common underlying intelligence factor, correlated measures of attractiveness across many observers could in principle allow us to extract an individuals BQ (beauty quotient) in a controlled social science experiment.

Personality and Individual Differences doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.05.005

A beauty-map of London: Ratings of the physical attractiveness of women and men in London’s boroughs

Viren Swami and Eliana G. Hernandez


In 1908, Francis Galton discussed anecdotal data he had collected for the compilation of a ‘beauty-map of the British Isles’. Based on his discussion, the present study attempted to compile a more empirical beauty-map of London. A community sample of 461 Londoners completed a questionnaire in which they rated the physical attractiveness of women and men in London’s 33 boroughs, as well as their familiarity with those boroughs. Results showed a significant interaction between borough and rated sex, with women being rated as more attractive across boroughs, and three boroughs in particular (the City of London, the City of Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea) being rated high in physical attractiveness. Overall, ratings of attractiveness were significantly positively correlated with familiarity of boroughs, as well as objective measures of borough affluence (specifically, annual gross pay and average house prices) but not of borough health (life expectancy). These results are discussed in relation to the association between wealth and attractiveness, as well as Galton’s original beauty-map.



Ulrich Renz said...

O my god, this is really one of the worst studies I have come across yet. The authors claim to have established "the first empirical beauty-map" (p. 366), but what they have done is asking a non-representative sample about their BELIEVES about the beauty of residents of different borroughs. What is the worth of a compilation of people's stereotypes? How could a publisher accept a misleading title like this? This all sheds a light on the depressive state of a big part (not all fortunately) of attractiveness research.

gulseren adakli said...

I am absolutely agree with Ulrich... But anyway, it is really interesting to observe or study on the connections between sexual relationships and places. I remember a news which was based on a similar survey in a London freesheet (it was not so `scientific` but funny:)) For example, they found that the most of relationships had started in tube stations and especially on northern line (for every hour, it is most crowded station in London!)