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Need advice on study to measure importance of appearance vs. personality on attractiveness


drumbo
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I was talking with a buddy on the train a couple of years ago, and he asked me what I thought about men who complain about some women not liking "nice" guys and instead going for "bad" guys. I asked him if he meant that those women don't like the "nice" guys because they are "nice", or despite them being "nice, and he said that it was despite them being "nice". I said the fact that they are "nice" is irrelevant then, since we can assume those women would still not like those "nice" men if they were "bad", and there must be other factors making them unattractive to those women. Eventually this got us talking about whether or not it was worth it to try to change one's personality to be more attractive to women, or if that was mostly a waste of time and maximizing the physical stuff was about the best that you could do.

Now my buddy and I are both young good looking guys who are successful in our careers, and have had success wooing women, but my buddy has had more success with securing long term girlfriends and not much with short term flings, while I have had more success with short term flings but not long term relationships since my personality tends to repel women within a few weeks (I am highly disagreeable and argumentative, and frankly lacking in empathy or shame, which I am trying to work on). This made me question how I ever managed to get women to tolerate me at all, since I have talked to other young men who have told me about their difficulty in attracting women, and I couldn't find any great faults in their personalities which I don't have ten-fold in severity. In addition, my own experience with couples that I know, and those I don't know which I've seen holding hands walking down the street, has given me an intuitive belief that most the variation in who partners up with who is explained by the physical attributes rather than personality.

But how can we test this hypothesis in a statistically robust manner? I thought about the website that Mark Zuckerberg's made when he was at Harvard, Facemash I think? AFAIK Zuckerberg scraped the pictures of female students from a publicly available Harvard webpage, and then hosted those photos on the Facemash website. If you visited the website, two photos would appear of different female students, and you would select the photo which you found more attractive, making the whole thing a sort of contest. Something akin to an ELO score, or a Glicko score, could then be computed in the posterior, iteratively, after each contest, and ostensibly after many such contests the most attractive women would have the highest ELO scores, and the least attractive women would have the lowest scores; the initial prior assumption is that the ELO score for each woman is equal.

I thought that this scheme, done in a more ethical manner with permission of course, might be an excellent way to figure out how important personality really is in determining attractiveness for men. Note that if we compute ELO scores based purely upon photographs, then that ELO score should reflect physical attractiveness exclusively.

  1. Start with 100 men and 100 women volunteers in the 20-24 year old age bracket who do not know one another
  2. Allow those 100 men to assign ELO scores to the 100 women using a similar scheme to the one Zuckerberg used with Facemash
  3. Give each of the 100 men something akin to a Tinder profile that only shows their pictures without a biography (to avoid confounding with personality traits)
  4. Show each woman the "Tinder" profiles of each man, recording who she swipes right or left on
  5. Start with an initial prior assumption is that the ELO score for each man is equal, and adjust his ELO rating according the rough scheme:
    1. High ELO woman swipes right on high ELO man -> Small increase in man's ELO
    2. High ELO woman swipes right on low ELO man -> Large increase in man's ELO
    3. Low ELO woman swipes right on high ELO man -> Negligible increase in man's ELO
    4. Low ELO woman swipes right on low ELO man -> Small increase in man's ELO
    5. High ELO woman swipes left on high ELO man -> Small decrease in man's ELO
    6. High ELO woman swipes left on low ELO man -> Negligible decrease in man's ELO
    7. Low ELO woman swipes left on high ELO man -> Large decrease in man's ELO
    8. Low ELO woman swipes left on low ELO man -> Small decrease in man's ELO
  6. Now that we have ELO scores for each man, we proceed to compute personality ELO scores (P-ELO)
    1. Get each woman to have a 5 minute phone conversation with 12 different randomly selected men, and ask her if she would like to meet that man in person after each phone call
    2. Start with an initial prior assumption is that the P-ELO score for each man is equal, and adjust his P-ELO rating according the rough scheme:
      1. High ELO woman wants to meet high P-ELO man in person -> Small increase in man's P-ELO
      2. High ELO woman wants to meet low P-ELO man in person -> Large increase in man's P-ELO
      3. Low ELO woman wants to meet high P-ELO man in person -> Negligible increase in man's P-ELO
      4. Low ELO woman wants to meet low P-ELO man in person -> Small increase in man's P-ELO
      5. High ELO woman doesn't want to meet high P-ELO man in person -> Small decrease in man's P-ELO
      6. High ELO woman doesn't want to meet low P-ELO man in person -> Negligible decrease in man's P-ELO
      7. Low ELO woman doesn't want to meet high P-ELO man in person -> Large decrease in man's P-ELO
      8. Low ELO woman doesn't want to meet low P-ELO man in person -> Small decrease in man's P-ELO

Now we can expect that the rating deviation for the P-ELO scores for the men will be high, since 100 women making 12 phone calls each will result in an average of 100*12/100 = 12 phone calls for each man, but that may be enough information to make statistically significant inferences given how we will proceed. We proceed as follows:

  1. Find a new sample of 100 women in the 20-24 year old age bracket
  2. Allow the same 100 men from above to assign ELO scores to the new sample of 100 women just as they did before, "Facemash style"
  3. Have each women go on 5 minute in person speed dates with 12 of the same men from above, randomly selected over the course of 1 hour
  4. At the end of the hour session ask each woman if she would like to go on a date with each man she talked to, and then adjust his overall ELO score (O-ELO) according to the rough scheme:
    1. High ELO woman wants to meet high O-ELO man in person -> Small increase in man's O-ELO
    2. High ELO woman wants to meet low O-ELO man in person -> Large increase in man's O-ELO
    3. Low ELO woman wants to meet high O-ELO man in person -> Negligible increase in man's O-ELO
    4. Low ELO woman wants to meet low O-ELO man in person -> Small increase in man's O-ELO
    5. High ELO woman doesn't want to meet high O-ELO man in person -> Small decrease in man's O-ELO
    6. High ELO woman doesn't want to meet low O-ELO man in person -> Negligible decrease in man's O-ELO
    7. Low ELO woman doesn't want to meet high O-ELO man in person -> Large decrease in man's O-ELO
    8. Low ELO woman doesn't want to meet low O-ELO man in person -> Small decrease in man's O-ELO

Now we can compare the rankings of each man according to their ELO scores (based purely on the physical), P-ELO scores (based purely on personality), and O-ELO scores (based on in person interaction). If we find that the rankings are more consistent between the P-ELO and O-ELO rankings, then that would suggest that personality is more important than the physical in determining attractiveness. However if we find more consistency between the ELO and O-ELO rankings, then that would suggest that the physical stuff is more important than personality in determining attractiveness.

For example, say I am ranked #25 in ELO, meaning there are 24 men with a higher ELO than myself, and that my buddy is ranked #26. However because of my unpleasant personality, my P-ELO ranking is #75, meanwhile my buddy's P-ELO is #26 since he's a "nice" guy. Now if personality is more important than the physical, we would expect my buddy's O-ELO ranking to be higher than mine, but that is what's really interesting to me, what we would find?

I am looking for advice and comments on the statistical validity of analyzing this based on ELO scores, and if I am missing any confounding effects. Thanks

Edited by drumbo
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IMO You're giving a lot of thought to this question from a personal POV.

You're missing important points about correlation attractiveness/potential mate profiling that have to do with women's cycle of ovulation and have been studied.

Your study has carelessness and self-interest written all over it. The biological POV is absent.

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7 hours ago, drumbo said:

I am looking for advice and comments on the statistical validity of analyzing this based on ELO scores, and if I am missing any confounding effects. Thanks

If you quantified your idea you could use an actual algorithm and do an analysis.

 

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On 9/9/2020 at 6:32 AM, swansont said:

If you quantified your idea you could use an actual algorithm and do an analysis.

 

Agreed. It will take some legwork on my part to understand the mathematical statistics of ELO/Glicko scores, but to be honest it's not like I have the resources or position to conduct this study in any case. I just wanted to develop the idea in case it's useful to someone who has the means to conduct the study, I'm talking to you academia lurkers!

Edited by drumbo
Grammar
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