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Why We Judge People By Their Appearances

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin A happy woman reaching out hand, ready for cooperation getty Why do we judge people by their appearances? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. Answer by Dr. Abbie Maroño, PhD in Psychology and Behavior Analysis, on Quora: It’s tempting to dismiss the habit of judging others by their appearances as mere superficiality or a negative trait. Judging by appearances, while often seen as judgmental, is actually a deeply ingrained human behavior. It is a deeply ingrained human behavior with roots in evolutionary psychology and reinforced by societal norms. However, before I get into the specifics, it is crucial to clarify that understanding why we make snap judgments based on appearance does not excuse or justify discriminatory, rude, or unkind behavior. As with any innate behavior, it is essential to first understand the evolutionary basis. From an evolutionary perspective, quick judgments based on appearance could have had survival benefits. Early humans needed to rapidly assess threats and opportunities in their environment, including distinguishing friend from foe. Features that might indicate health, strength, or fertility were particularly important. For instance, characteristics such as facial symmetry, body posture, and overall vitality are often unconsciously assessed and have been linked to perceptions of health and genetic fitness. Research has indicated that these traits are not just superficial markers but can be indicators of a person’s immune system strength and reproductive capabilities, traits that were crucial for mate selection and survival in ancestral environments. Furthermore, certain physical characteristics might have been associated with specific social roles and capabilities within a community. For example, height and muscular build in men have been traditionally associated with the ability to protect and provide, traits that could have contributed to leadership roles or desirability as a mate. Similarly, skin clarity and texture can be indicators of youth and fertility, qualities that were valued for reproductive success. MORE FOR YOU Cannes Film Festival 2024: Stars Arrive On Red Carpet For Annual Event TelevisaUnivision 2024-25 Slate Touts Latino Culture, ViX Growth, Juanpa Zurita, William Levy Deals Judge Says Up To 20 Million Fintech Depositors Are At Risk From Synapse Bankruptcy Of course, an individual’s appearance does not necessarily reflect their physical wellbeing, hence such snap judgements are not always accurate. However, these snap judgements persist because our brains are wired to make quick decisions using limited information, a process facilitated by cognitive shortcuts known as heuristics. This capability helps us navigate complex social environments efficiently by making immediate judgments based on visible cues. Indeed, research has shown that people form impressions of strangers’ personalities within fractions of a second after seeing their faces, indicating that our brains use appearances as a quick way to gauge someone’s traits. Finally, we most of us know too well, the media can have an extremely negative impact on beauty standards, and dramatically impact both our self-perception and perception or others. Media outlets constantly bombard us with idealized and often digitally enhanced images of beauty, success, and what is deemed socially desirable. This relentless exposure can create and perpetuate unrealistic standards that deeply influence how we see ourselves and others. Moreover, the media often perpetuates stereotypes about attractiveness and success, reinforcing narrow and often exclusionary views of what is considered “acceptable” or “ideal.” These stereotypes can lead to discrimination and social stigmatization of individuals who do not fit these narrow criteria, affecting their opportunities and social interactions. Understanding why we judge others based on appearance helps highlight the importance of being aware of these biases and taking steps to mitigate their impact in our personal and professional interactions. This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website. Quora Following Editorial Standards Print Reprints & Permissions

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