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Recently, I read up several interesting questions on the web about the relationship between IQ and general intelligence and physiological symmetry. But more importantly, what explains the correlation? Or is it even true? Because most of the wod's foremost thinkers, like Plato, and Sartre, were ugly.

  • Is there really a relationship between beauty (physiological symmetry) and intelligence?
  • And if so, does physiological symmetry cause high intelligence?
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2 Answers 2

In the general population there does seem to be a positive correlation between psychometrically measured intelligence and observer rated attractiveness (Kanazawa, 2011). The power of the relationship seems to be medium to low.

Two possible explanations for this relationship are:

  1. Intelligence and physical attractiveness both depend on physical health; meaning that people who grow up unhealthily tend to be less attractive and less intelligent.

  2. The genes for intelligence and physical attractiveness became collocated over time as more attractive people tend to mate with more intelligent people.


Kanazawa, Satoshi. Intelligence and physical attractiveness. Intelligence 39.1 (2011): 7-14. (free pdf here)

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And by the same author: Why beautiful people are more intelligent (free pdf). And as a side note, slides of my friend on that topic. There are also some links to paper investigating the beauty-symmetry relationship. –  Piotr Migdal May 17 '13 at 13:43
That's my hypothesis: if you're more intelligent, you can make more money, and land a more attractive mate, and have more attractive (and intelligent) children... –  Josh Gitlin May 18 '13 at 17:37
It's called selective mating. Intelligence and beauty are both forms of "excellence" that attract each other even if they aren't the same. –  Tom Au Sep 27 '13 at 23:17

Just going by personal experience, the opposite seems to be true for me for the majority of people who, we are told by the media, are 'beautiful'. People who are physically very attractive have to work a lot harder for me to take them seriously, especially so for people who look as though a lot of effort has gone into how such people present themselves to others.

This idea of attractiveness I think is based on perceptions of beauty as inherent and/or innate, versus beauty as something synthesised - a 'product'. One being natural (and therefore possibly 'flawed'), the other not (too 'perfect').

Flawed natural beauty to me is infinitely more powerful than synthesised beauty. Natural beauty could easily be co-related to levels of intelligence, whereas perfected beauty probably not.

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