Although research by London School of Economics Reader Satoshi Kanazawa has positively correlated beauty with intelligence and Timothy Judge, PhD, at the University of Florida has proven that feelings of self-worth and salary both correlate with objective measures of beauty, until now we’ve never understood from a neurological standpoint why these correlations exist.
We know that humans have a strong preference for attractive faces, but why is it that humans judge attractive people to be more friendly, honest, and intelligent? New research suggests that multi-tasking by specific regions of the brain may be responsible for this correlation. Takashi Tsukiura and Roberto Cabeza of Duke University used functional-MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to prove increased activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, a reward center of the brain, when subjects viewed attractive faces and when they made “goodness judgments” about hypothetical actions. Reciprocal levels of activity were seen in the insular cortex of the brain. Because the same brain area interprets beauty and behavior of others, we correlate the two. On the other hand, because attractive people have increased sense of self worth and confidence, perhaps their personalities tend to be more socially desirable. Correlation between beauty and personality characteristics may thus be learned as well as innate.