[Legitscience] – A recent study published in the Journal Crime & Delinquency revealed that believing that you are “good-looking” may increase your chance of committing a crime. According to the study, young people who thought they were more attractive were more likely to commit crimes.
“People are frequently evaluated based on their appearance. After all, it’s frequently the first thing people say that catches our attention.” This is according to Bowling Green State University assistant professor and research author Thomas J. Mowen.
“And while there is a substantial corpus of research on the effects of physical attractiveness, there was hardly any on the connection between attractiveness and offending.”
“Given how much physical attractiveness relates to other aspects of life, such as employment, earnings, life satisfaction and dating experiences, it would appear that it could also be linked to offending.”
Participants in the Study
Mowen and his colleagues collected data from middle and high school students. This is over the course of four years for their study, which involved analyzing eight waves of panel data from the Adolescent Academic Context Study.
The survey’s participants were asked to rate how much they believed their appearance was attractive. The participants were also asked to list any deviant actions they had taken. Actions such as selling drugs, lying to their parents, engaging in significant physical altercations, or spray-painting graffiti. 783 young people made up the final sample for the current study.
The researchers had predicted that higher perceptions of attractiveness would be linked to lower levels of offending. This was based on general strain theory. The theory holds that when a person’s attempts to accomplish a socially acceptable goal are unsuccessful, it may cause them to engage in abnormal behavior. Because there is a gap between what people want and what they can get through legal means, people frequently act out or commit other crimes.
The researchers wrote, “From the perspective of general strain, less attractive adolescents could find it harder to establish or maintain valued friendships during a stage of life where the peer group is a key factor in everyday social life.”
The outcome of the study showed that people who consider themselves to be “good-looking” are more likely to offend others.
Mowen and his colleagues discovered a different pattern of outcomes. Also, increased levels of general misbehavior, aggression, theft, property destruction, and drug sales were linked to higher perceptions of attractiveness. According to Mowen, “contrary to our assumptions, adolescents who regarded themselves as more attractive committed more crime than the less attractive ones.”
Speaking generally, these imply that attractiveness may be a risk factor for criminal behavior [offending]. But why is there a connection between deviant behavior and self-perceived attractiveness?
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“A lot of crime is what criminologists refer to as ‘groupy,”‘ said Mowen. “In other words, it happens in social settings. For instance, young people who damage property often do so in groups. The fact that young people’s views of popularity and attractiveness coincide so likely helps to explain some of our findings. Youth who are more popular are hence presumably more likely to be in social groups and have access to crime.”
Mowen went on to say that “We will shortly release a follow-up study.”