Beautiful people 'selfish by nature'

Beautiful people 'selfish by nature'

A team of researchers from Barcelona University and the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain have found that people with symmetrical faces are more self-sufficient and they are also less likely to co-operate.

According to the study, people blessed with more symmetrical facial features, which are considered more pretty, are less likely to co-operate and more likely to selfishly focus on their own interests.

The team, led by Santiago Sanchez-Pages of Barcelona University and Enrique Turiegano of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, has based its claims on the "prisoner's dilemma" model of behaviour, played out under laboratory conditions.

Two players were each given the option of being a "dove" and co-operating for the greater good; or a "hawk", taking the selfish option, with a chance of gaining more if the other player chose "dove" and co-operated. The subjects' faces were then analysed. The study found that people with more symmetrical faces were less likely to co-operate and less likely to expect others to co-operate, 'The Observer' reported.

The explanation may be found in evolution. The two academics speculate that, on a subconscious level, people tend to view symmetrical physical attributes as a sign of good health and find people with them more attractive as a result.

Earlier studies have suggested that individuals with symmetrical faces tend to suffer fewer congenital diseases and therefore make better potential mating partners. As a result, the studies suggest, they are more self-sufficient and have less need for seeking the help of others.

The pair said: "As people with symmetrical faces tend to be healthier and more attractive, they are also more self-sufficient and have less of an incentive to co-operate and seek help from others. Through natural selection over thousands of years, these characteristics continue to the present day."

The researchers also examined the relationship between co-operation levels and exposure to hormone testosterone during development. Testosterone is usually associated with aggressive behaviour.

But the authors suggest this is only a partial truth and that testosterone can promote co-operative behaviour. They said: "Subjects exposed to higher levels of testosterone during foetal development did not co-operate less than the rest and even co-operated more than subjects with average levels. It seems that leading co-operation and not necessarily obtaining a higher individual profit are seen by some as a source of status.

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