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GWI releases study on beauty and wellness

By Jane Kitchen    05 Feb 2018
Dr Chatterjee is the author of The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art

According to a report sponsored by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), good-looking people receive many advantages in life: they are more likely to be hired, given more pay, receive lesser punishments, and are assumed to be more intelligent and trustworthy.

Conversely, a “disfigured-is-bad” bias can exist, and people with minor facial disfigurements may be judged negatively and perceived as having undesirable personality traits, such as emotional instability or laziness.

The report, Beauty2Wellness: Mitigating Barriers and Building Bridges, was conducted by Dr Anjan Chatterjee of the University of Pennsylvania, who tested this bias by asking observers to share initial impressions of 26 sets of pictures of faces – one of which was affected by a disfigurement such as a carcinoma, a scar or small wound, or facial paralysis and one that had been treated to correct the disfigurement. The study confirmed that post-treatment faces were seen as having more positive personality traits than pre-treatment faces.

“The link between beauty and wellness is not obvious. An unhealthy preoccupation with beauty can emphasize a ‘beauty is good’ stereotype, where people are judged based on how they look rather than how they act,” said Dr Chatterjee. “Our first study showed that people make deep inferences about a person’s personality based on superficial features. Flawed faces are regarded as flawed people. The cosmetic industry can mitigate these judgments that likely adversely impacts people’s wellbeing at work and at play.”

In a second phase of the study, the researchers asked if people were aware of harboring biases related to facial attributes.

“Understanding biases helps us understand how people might overcome them,” said GWI chair and CEO Susie Ellis. “This knowledge also contributes to building an egalitarian society that supports individual wellness, which is a goal of the Global Wellness Institute. ”

The results showed that people make automatic inferences about a person’s personality when they look at a face, and men are especially susceptible to adverse biases. The authors suggest that cosmetics could play an important role by limiting observable facial flaws, and therefore, mitigating negative judgments.

Dr Chatterjee is the author of The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art.

“The new GWI study was rooted in the research and insights that Dr. Chatterjee explored in his book,” said Ellis.

Dr Anjan Chatterjee  Global Wellness Institute  beauty  wellness 
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