Attractiveness Is Contagious, According To Research — How To Catch It

The strange way an attraction contagion really works.

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Question: is Benedict Cumberbatch cute? For months I have been saying, no way. My good friend, on the other hand, is all about him.

Some have made comparisons to his face looking like an otter or other critters.

But there is no doubt a huge following that indeed finds him cute.

After some time thinking about this (yes, I am saying this earnestly) I have come across some pictures of him that I could say would pass for "cute."


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Is this because I'm seeing something that has been in front of me the whole time, but never noticed? Or is it because attractiveness is contagious? According to a study, it's the latter.


A 2015 study published in Advances in Consumer Research found that other people's opinions on what is considered attractive end up having an effect on others' judgments.

There was an experiment where people were asked to rate people's photos on attractiveness. Sometimes the participants knew how others rated the photos after they gave their opinion, and other times they weren't told that information. Participants who were given other people's opinions tended to come to a conclusion that went along with others.

What this means is that as people rated photos, they were influenced by what other people perceived as beautiful and internalized those standards without even knowing it.

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But why in the world would people do that? In the end, you're your own person. If you tend to find someone cute and others don't, who cares? This research solidifies what we already knew. People internalize other people's standards of beauty and conform to them, even if they don't realize it.

Hmmm…this study kind of makes me question everything about myself. Is Ryan Gosling really hot? Or do I just say that he is because everyone seemed to think so after The Notebook? Are we all just sheeple?

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In all seriousness, this is just another study that shows how important it is that we look at society and the media in terms of what is considered "attractive."


There are pictures of Queen Beyoncé without Photoshop on the internet that go viral all the time. This is mostly because it's just another example that this type of beauty that society tells women to aspire to isn't even real. It's manufactured through tons of makeup and airbrushing.

It's time for us to start asking for less Photoshop and more diversity in our media so more people in real life can be deemed as "attractive." Attractiveness is contagious, so why not pass it on?

RELATED: 10 Physical Features In Women That Attract Men The Most


Nicole Weaver is a senior writer for Showbiz Cheat Sheet whose work has been featured in New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and more.