How much does your appearance really matter?

Throughout history, people have taken pride in their appearance. The modern world is obsessed with looks and an increasing amount of people are going to greater lengths in the name of vanity. For example, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons saw a 6.7% increase in total procedures from 2008 – 2009.

We make thousands of decisions every day, but the decision of choosing what clothes to put on in the morning can affect a number of things: our mood, how other people perceive us, and to some extent, how well our day goes.

Numerous studies show that our appearance influences many aspects of our lives. Photo: Anneka James

According to author of “The Psychology of Appearance”, Nichola Rumsey, appearing attractive to others is in our own self interest, as making an effort with your appearance will mean you have “better access to desirable social resources, such as friendships and lovers”.

What we wear has such a powerful influence that even judges can’t ignore. Website and magazine, “Psychology Today”, says that psychologists have shown that the more attractive a defendant, the more believable they are. There is evidence showing that better looking criminals receive shorter sentences. However, evidence points towards not only facial attractiveness, but also choices of clothing in court.

In fact, there is an entire profession dedicated to advise lawyers and defendants on how to dress in court, called ‘jury consultants’.

“The jury is going to form impressions of you based on subtle characteristics of personality and attitude, and dress is one important element,” says psychologist and jury consultant, Robert Gordon.

Researchers have come up with a theory called the “evolutionary feminist theory” to conceive one reason why people are so image conscious. The report behind the theory suggests that we asthetically compete with each other to find a partner, and that we subconsciously seek out someone who we think will produce the best offspring.

“The increased numbers of beauty products ranging from cosmetics to anti-ageing creams are simply a natural reaction of the industry to the increased demands of consumers. Women seek these products in order to become more competitive with one another,” the report says.

Another claim suggesting the importance of appearance is from a study involving the University of Kent. The study outlines that it is important to “understand the ways personality is communicated via our appearance, which ‘has important implications’ on our professional and social life.”

So there you have it – your sense of style can determine your life partner,  your friends, and if you were to go to jail, the length of your sentence. You heard it here first!

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