Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ugly as sin

Do ugly people commit more crimes?

It's certainly true that beauty is an important quality. Of course, the definition of beauty evolves over time and shows variability between cultures.

My friend Zwichenzug once commented that the older you get, the more important it is to be smart. Life gets more complex as we mature and take on more responsibilities and have more opportunities.

But is the corrolary to Zwichenzug's comment that the younger you are, the more important it is to be pretty?

A new study indicates that attractiveness is an indicator of future criminality and suggests that beauty is certainly an advantage prior to entering the work force.

Here's the abstract:

Using data from three waves of Add Health we find that being very attractive reduces a young adult's (ages 18-26) propensity for criminal activity and being unattractive increases it for a number of crimes, ranging from burglary to selling drugs. A variety of tests demonstrate that this result is not because beauty is acting as a proxy for socio-economic status. Being very attractive is also positively associated adult vocabulary test scores, which suggests the possibility that beauty may have an impact on human capital formation. We demonstrate that, especially for females, holding constant current beauty, high school beauty (pre-labor market beauty) has a separate impact on crime, and that high school beauty is correlated with variables that gauge various aspects of high school experience, such as GPA, suspension or having being expelled from school, and problems with teachers. These results suggest two handicaps faced by unattractive individuals. First, a labor market penalty provides a direct incentive for unattractive individuals toward criminal activity. Second, the level of beauty in high school has an effect on criminal propensity 7-8 years later, which seems to be due to the impact of the level of beauty in high school on human capital formation, although this second avenue seems to be effective for females only. |Link|

Seen on the Law Librarian Blog.


Mun Mun said...

I suspect pretty people get away with crime more often. So, they probably perpetrate more crimes than statistics show. Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer are a couple of examples of reasonably good-looking guys who probably wouldn't have gotten away with with serial killing so long if they had been unattractive.

Sarah Deer said...

Jeffrey Dahmer? I always thought he was creepy-looking.

Mun Mun said...

Ted Bundy's looks are not my cup of tea. However, if I look at a still photo of Dahmer and pretend I don't know what a sicko he was, he looks like a fairly cute guy.

I think it's easier to pull off looking innocent if you at least don't look like Ernest Borgnine.

DR said...

Why would I say such a thing?

As far as Dahmer and Bundy go, there's a fine line between charisma and crazy, right? Both are expressed through shiny eyes.