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Divorce Rates and the Attractiveness of Partners

Divorce Rates and the Attractiveness of Partners

By: M. Scott Gordon

It might sound like an unlikely topic for research into divorce and social psychology, but a new study suggests that married people who are more physically attractive are more likely to get divorced than others. Indeed, according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed social psychology journal Personal Relationships, aesthetic beauty may come with certain types of problems in committed marriages. The article on the study is entitled, “Attractiveness and Relationship Longevity: Beauty is Not What it is Cracked Up to Be.” The three authors contend that people “rated as more attractive in high school yearbooks were married for shorter durations and more likely to divorce.”

What else should Chicago area residents know about the links between physical attractiveness and divorce rates?

Physical Attractiveness is a Known Predictor for Certain Life Outcomes

The recent study, written by Christine Ma-Kellams, Margaret C. Wang, and Hannah Cardiel, suggests that some of the news should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with research into physical attractiveness and psychology. To be sure, the authors write that “research in social psychology has long suggested that physical attractiveness is a powerful motivator and potent predictor of positive outcomes across a variety of domains.” For instance, people who are considered to have traits of physical attractiveness may receive promotions more often than other people, or more have more social opportunities. At the same time, physical attractiveness can also have its “liabilities,” such as women exhibiting physical attractiveness who are less trusting of members of the opposite sex in social situations or exhibit lower self-esteem.

However, in the present study, the researchers sought to determine whether there is a link between a person’s physical attractiveness and his or her satisfaction in a personal romantic relationship. What did the study find? In short, physically attractive people often exhibit traits that result in less stable relationships and higher divorce rates.

More Partners and Cheating Behavior

According to the authors of the study, physical attractiveness tends to be “linked to popularity, dating, and sexual experience.” As such, the researchers contend that such traits may be likely to “stand as relational liabilities insofar as they promote greater likelihood of interest in extra-relationship partners.” While physical attractiveness initially can be what draws two people together, it ultimately may “threaten the long-term viability of the ensuing relationship.”

More specifically, physically attractive people statistically tend to have more romantic partners. This, in turn, suggests that their relationships last for shorter periods of time. When people with such histories do get married, the known possibility, or option, of having alternate partners can threaten the marriage. In addition, the study indicates that physical attractiveness sometimes can align with cheating behavior in relationships. The authors write that “more physically attractive individuals are more frequently the target of poaching attempts . . . and perhaps not surprisingly, more attractive men have higher divorce rates.”

Contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer

The recent study is a fascinating social psychology assessment of one possible cause for divorce. If you have questions about filing for divorce in Illinois, an experienced Chicago divorce attorney can help. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today to learn more about our services.