Throughout time attractive men and women have gotten a reputation for being rather arrogant and just plain selfish. And while it’s wrong to judge an individual simply by his or her looks, a recent study suggests that, in this instance, first impressions may be accurate, for men at least.

Appearance vs. Personality

The tie between physical attraction and arrogance is an enigma. Is it an individual’s looks that lead him to become selfish or do others simply find selfishness to be an attractive trait? According to research from Brunel University in London, it’s the former.

To investigate, the team first scientifically analyzed the bodies of 63 men and 62 women and categorized them according to general beauty standards. This involved measuring the men’s waist-to-chest ratio and the females’ waist-to-hip ratio and overall slimness. The researchers then asked the same participants to complete a personality questionnaire about their general attitudes toward selfishness and inequality, Medical News Today reported. The participants were also tested on their generosity in an experiment where they were given money and asked to decide how much they wanted to share with another individual.

The higher the men scored for attractiveness, the more selfish they behaved. Interestingly, the same did not ring true for the female participants, whose generosity scores remained around the same regardless of their level of attraction.

"Our results showed that, in fact, we may be justified in expecting more attractive men to behave in ways that are less favorable to economic and social equality," the researchers concluded.

What Causes Selfishness?

Although the opposite would seem to be true, studies have shown that a high prediction of one’s level of selfishness is actually determined by personal wealth. Scientific American reported that it’s not exactly large amounts of money which cause people to become selfish, but rather that wealth has the tendency to reduce a person’s ability to feel compassion. Selfishness is simply the by-product.

For example, in one 2011 study, researchers found that luxury cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and speed past pedestrians in a crosswalk. In another study, researchers monitored individuals while they watched compassion-inducing videos and found that the wealthier individuals expressed far less physical indications of “compassion,” such as slowed heart beat, than their low-income counterparts.

The team from Brunel feels that their research proves attraction is “at least as important as wealth” in influencing these feelings of compassion and social inequality. However, it was emphasized that although there seemed to be a trend in attraction and selfish behavior, this link was “nowhere near to being perfect” and there surely are many attractive individuals who are also generous and kind.

Source: Price ME, Brown S, Dukes A, Kange J. Bodily attractiveness and egalitarianism are negatively related in males. Evolutionary Psychology. 2015.