Friday, May 05, 2006

Rationalizing beauty

Today a fellow member of the Puppy Linux forum had this comment on the topic of external appeal:

I am like a fickle teenager, if the guy is cute I will date him, if he is a cute dork I will dump him, if he is cute and cool I will keep him, but if he is cool but "homely" I would never have gone on the first date.

This made me reflect on the topic at a more basic level. I am convinced that this is directly related to the way our brains are wired: Attractiveness is associated in the most primitive areas of our brains with healthiness. In the wild, the healthier specimens are more successful. Attractiveness=Health=Survival Success.

That translation is subconsciously extrapolated. We make that association looking at a car and we make that association looking at a user interface.

Even more, we are a gregarious species, wired in our brain is also the inclination to associate ourselves with the successful. If we hung around the best hunter we might get a better share. It's the primitive emotional reaction that comes naturally to us.

On the other hand, it takes a conscious effort to accept the externally unattractive that has good internal qualities: We make rationalizations "but He/she is a good/intelligent/hardworking person", "the system is more stable", etc.

Emotions are instantaneous; rationalization takes time and as the quote implicitly puts it: If we get to choose, we would prefer the one that meets both.