Dating Games: Looking past looks

The ‘halo effect’ leads good-looking people to be automatically judged good people. What a mistake!

ugly guy 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
ugly guy 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The opposite of the “halo effect” (Dating Games, February 11) is the “beauty bias” – a term created by Stanford University law Prof. Deborah Rhode to explain the phenomenon of why the less attractive you are, the less likely you are to be married and the more likely you are to be poor; the more likely you are to receive a longer prison sentence, a lower damages award, a lower salary and a poorer performance review.
As a dating advice columnist, it’s the first part of the description – “the less likely you are to be married” – that concerns me. Anything that further hurts people’s chances of finding love is a topic I feel the need to address.
Just as good-looking people are incorrectly automatically judged as being good people with the halo effect, less attractive people are erroneously judged as being less desirable because of the beauty bias. We’re all guilty of it, regardless of how attractive we deem ourselves to be.
If we believe someone is less attractive than us, we don’t give them a chance because we assume they don’t have any other qualities we would be interested in.
It saddens me to see less outwardly attractive people getting rejected without a second glance by people who think they are better-looking – and therefore too good.
And, conversely, I give a little chuckle when a really good-looking person lacking in personality is rejected by a less attractive, but incredibly great person! My friend Lisa always insists on seeing a guy’s photo before she will hear anything else about him. That’s because one time I told her all these amazing attributes about a guy – Jewish, tall, smart, successful, funny, friendly and ready for marriage – and she decided to meet him sight unseen.
She was incredibly disappointed to find someone waiting for her, bearing a dozen long-stemmed red roses, at the best table in a popular restaurant… someone whom she found extremely unattractive.
She was upset with me, said it was the worst night of her life. Even though it was a romantic setting and she laughed all night long, she could not get past the fact that this man was, in her words, “ugly.”
As a result, not only did she pass up a chance with a great guy, she lost some of her luster in my eyes because she had judged someone solely on their looks.
WHEN I was single, I purposely made a concerted effort to give everyone a chance and not pass judgment on looks alone.
I remember being out with a guy named Ryan whom I met at a singles event. I knew he wasn’t in line to win any awards for his looks, but he made me laugh. We had a good time together, and the conversation flowed. And the more I got to know him, the better looking he became – at least in my eyes.
Other people were stunned to hear we were dating because they considered me way out of his league. Their ignorance only made me want to prove them wrong and make it work with Ryan.
Ultimately, of course, it didn’t work out; but I hoped I had succeeded in convincing even just a few people to give everyone a chance, regardless of their looks.
My hope is that a better understanding of the halo effect and the beauty bias will help people look past looks. I hope singles who are putting effort into Jewish Internet dating sites, or Jewish singles and networking events, or shidduchim will also put effort into getting to know someone before passing judgment based on their attractiveness quotient.
Of course, attraction is important, but attraction comes from many places, not just outward appearances.
I challenge all singles to give a chance to people they wouldn’t necessarily have previously considered. I think singles would be surprised at how many more options they have when they stop overlooking those they regard as less attractive than themselves.
Next time you’re on a dating website, check out your matches based on all the great things you have in common, rather than scrolling past those you find less attractive than yourself. I think you’ll be surprised to find that attraction grows as a consequence of all the things you share.