Hot & Not?

September 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A broadly applicable rule-of-thumb is that people find similarity attractive. Generally speaking, the more similar people are, the more likely they are to be attracted to each other and to find an on-going relationship satisfying. McNulty, Neff & Karney (2008) explored similarity in the facial attractiveness of newlyweds. They found that attractiveness ratings correlated at a very modest level (r = .24).


Inter-rater reliabilities were good (the alpha for men’s ratings was .90 and .93 for women).

Couples had all been married for less than 6 months.


Subjects were found via opportunity/convenience sampling and were mostly local, 18-35 year-old, U.S. college students.

Body attractiveness was not considered in this study. Since body/facial attractiveness can be evaluated separately, this is a notable limitation.

This research supports the assertion that people pair-off with similar others and suggests a modest degree of similarity in facial attractiveness in newly married couples. It is possible that including body attractiveness as a variable might alter the strength of this relationship.

Wayne Hooke


[As a methodological aside, I researched my library’s database (PsychArticles), read the relevant full-text article in .pdf format, wrote and then posted this blog entry all from my iPhone. Research has changed a lot from my graduate school days in the library stacks!]


McNulty, J., Neff, L. & Karney, B. (2008). Beyond initial attractiveness: Physical attractiveness in newlywed marriage. Journal of Family Psychology, 22 (1), 135-143.

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