January 24, 2011
Smart People Better Looking

Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics

The research found handsome men scored 13.6 points above the average IQ score of 100.

And beautiful women were 11.4 points above the norm, according to the London School of Economics.

Since I want the future human race to be more beautiful and much smarter it is great to hear that these goals are very compatible.

So what's the arrow of causation? I can think of a few candidates. First off, an environment and nutrition that enable healthier fetal and baby development will make bodies more symmetric and symmetry is very attractive. At the same time, healthier developmental conditions will enable the brain to grow better. So IQ and beauty might at least partially be the product of good biochemical environment during development.

Another obvious possibility is genes driving both the symmetry and smart brain development. A good combination of genes could improve the whole developmental process at the fetal and later stages.

Still another possibility: modern mating practices. Could be that smarter successful men are going after more beautiful women and so smarts and beauty are being produced in hybrids.

This naturally brings us to the important topic of attractive actresses and models. Finally a FuturePundit-worthy reason to talk about them. "Support for the juxtaposition of beauty and brains is apparent in supermodel Lily Cole and actress Kate Beckinsale both Oxbridge graduates." Jeri Ryan was a National Merit Scholar. Natalie Portman graduated from Harvard and Brooke Shields (Pretty Baby pictures here) from Princeton. I figure the number of Ivy League degrees for beautiful women underestimate their prevalence among the brainy since quite a few brainy beautiful women have other options for advancement. They can make money in modeling and acting. Also, they have better odds of marrying rich.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 January 24 11:44 PM  Brain Intelligence

DrClown said at January 25, 2011 4:04 AM:

what about how society treats them being a factor?

Anonymous said at January 25, 2011 7:31 AM:

Rich men have sex with the most beautiful women. This makes beautiful children who also have the best education money can buy.

Lono said at January 25, 2011 8:19 AM:


I believe you are absolutely correct about the healthier babies simply having greater IQ and symmetry - and this is really all that is going on here - a main reason that people instinctively desire symmetry in their mates in the first place.

Unfortunately - from what I have seen in the various High IQ organizations - this direct relationship does not continue to scale proportionally...

(not that their isn't the occasional super model, actress, or famous porn star - who participate in these organizartions)


Although education IS an important measure of overall potential success - this study is really just looking at raw IQ or natural intellectual talent.

xd said at January 25, 2011 10:24 AM:

What anonymous said:

Brains = success (usually) = better choice of mates (usually).

In my experience the e.g. "dumb hot blonde" stereotype is a myth.

Though there are plenty of average looking very smart women it's been my experience that the hottest women you can find are in college bars rather than just regular bars.

The two are so obviously connected in my mind it's a no-brainer to figure out how it works.

Ask yourself this question: is a supremely talented (yet ugly by all measures) individual going to marry an ugly person?

Doesn't happen that way. Evolution is driving this trend.

Doug said at January 25, 2011 10:35 AM:

As to intelligence and beauty, based on my 60 years of life they are over-rated.

It is better to be a better man or woman than to be clever or superficially good-looking. A bit of ancient poetry by a famous handsome guy with smarts:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.

BioBob said at January 25, 2011 10:52 AM:

I will bet you 10 bux this is pure bullcrap. crap science - does not pass the smell test since it smells so bad. leave it to a school of economics to draw evolutionary assertions - makes me puke.

Mthson said at January 25, 2011 1:48 PM:

Biobob, consider whether your opinion is based on the yuck factor, and whether we're really doing ourselves or society in favors by advocating the yuck factor.

BioBob said at January 25, 2011 9:13 PM:

@ Mthson lol - nope, my opinion is based on this trash posting's link to a magazine article roughly as reputable as a SUPERMARKET TABLOID as a source. Next Randall WILL be posting from those paradigms of science such as The National Enquirer --- I await with bated breath......

Mthson said at January 25, 2011 11:04 PM:

Right, that's true that the magazine is not a scientific source, but the data and quotes are attributed to Kanazawa, at the London School of Economics, who has done a lot of great work in the past.

It does seem noteworthy that the findings aren't very humanitarian, but that just seems to be greater incentive for us to progress science faster so that we can do something about it to benefit everybody.

BioBob said at January 26, 2011 11:23 AM:

@ Mthson Ah yes, the great works of the (in)famous Satoshi Kanazawa about whom a cursory search discloses such gems as this entry in Wikipedia:

"In 2006 he published an article in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, claiming that attractive people are 26% less likely to have male offspring.[3][4] In a letter to the editors,[5] Columbia statistician Andrew Gelman points out that a correct interpretation of the regression coefficients in Kanazawa's analysis is that attractive people are 8% more likely to have girls, an error that Kanazawa acknowledges.[6] Gelman further argues that Kanazawa's analysis does not convincingly show causality, because of possible endogeneity as well as problematic interpretations of statistical significance in multiple comparisons."

Perhaps it is little wonder he is now publishing in the Marie Claire magazine on the continuing results of his previous triumphs, ROFL.

Nanonymous said at January 26, 2011 9:58 PM:

The arrow is non-existing because that study is practically guaranteed to be BS. Almost a whole SD? Too much, gotta be bias somewhere.

Suburbanbanshee said at January 27, 2011 3:54 AM:

A lot of attractive people are not stupid, and there are reasons for that (as seen above).

But I've gone to lots of elite institutions of higher learning, and social occasions where the general intelligence level is very high. And frankly, the general level of good looks has been pretty low. You'll see a few outstandingly handsome or beautiful people, a good chunk of average lookers, a good chunk of below average, and a much huger than normal chunk of outright ugly. (Also of people with severe facial disfigurements and disabilities, of course, but I don't think that counts as ugly. That goes with the large number of smart people with bad medical problems.)

Mind you, I'd say that smart ugly people are more likely to go out in public than unintelligent ugly people. But I'd also say that most really ugly people are either very smart or very not smart. You don't mean a lot of ugly people of average intelligence.

Joseph Hertzlinger said at February 1, 2011 1:17 PM:

The oddest part of this research is that the researchers used a decent sample size instead of rushing into print upon surveying a dozen freshmen.

This might be the start of a new trend in social-science research: real data.

On the other hand, after looking at the paper, I noticed that the correlation was between childhood IQ and childhood looks. The results may be different for adults. The paper tried to allow for that by mentioning a positive correlation between childhood and adult IQ and between childhood and adult appearance. On the gripping hand, I don't think something based on three stage of correlations is that reliable.

Anonymous said at February 2, 2011 6:06 PM:

BioBob is absolutely right. Satoshi Kanazawa is at best a derivative thinker, riding on the coattails of Robert Trivers and the Trivers-Willard Hypothesis that sex ratios at birth can be adapted so as to most advantageously pass on the parents' genes through its offsprings. Kanazawa's main problem is that he is not very rigorous in his methods or his methodology, and often makes mistakes like that one that Gelman caught. His facility for mathematical and statistical reasoning is about at the level of Marilyn vos Savant. Here is another one of his gems about why people find it harder to marry in big cities than in small towns:


He takes a simple result about estimating the maximum of a fixed n-length sequence, and misconstrues it into an interpretation about the work involved having to perform the estimate with a larger sample size---not very impressive.

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