In Case You Missed it: Why Black Women are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women

The article below was originally posted on Psychology Today, an online publication providing “Commentary, Research and News that cover all aspects of Human Behavior.” The server crashed from sooo many hits. If I’ve learned nothing else from twitter, I’ve learned to save everything!

Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?

By Satoshi Kanazawa
Created May 15 2011 – 5:00pm

There are marked race differences in physical attractiveness among women, but not among men.  Why?Add Health measures the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively.  At the end of each interview, the interviewer rates the physical attractiveness of the respondent objectively on the following five-point scale:  1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about average, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive.  The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.

From these three scores, I can compute the latent “physical attractiveness factor” by a statistical procedure called factor analysis.  Factor analysis has the added advantage of eliminating all random measurement errors that are inherent in any scientific measurement.  The latent physical attractiveness factor has a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.

Recall that women on average are more physically attractive than men.  So women of all races are on average more physically attractive than the “average” Add Health respondent, except for black women.  As the following graph shows, black women are statistically no different from the “average” Add Health respondent, and far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.

In contrast, races do not differ in physical attractiveness among men, as the following graph shows.  Men of all races are more or less equally less physically attractive than the “average” Add Health respondent.

This sex difference in the race differences in physical attractiveness – where physical attractiveness varies significantly by race among women, but not among men – is replicated at each Add Health wave (except that the race differences among men are statistically significant, albeit substantively very small, in Wave III).  In each wave, black women are significantly less physically attractive than women of other races.

It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.  In Wave III, Add Health asks its respondents to rate their own physical attractiveness subjectively on the following four-point scale:  1 = not at all, 2 = slightly, 3 = moderately, 4 = very.  As you can see in the following graphs, both black women and black men rate themselves to be far more physically attractive than individuals of other races.

What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women?  Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women.  The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women.  (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI:  27.0 vs. 26.9.)  However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women.  Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI.  Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women.  Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence.  Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.

There are many biological and genetic differences between the races.  However, such race differences usually exist in equal measure for both men and women.  For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.  And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health).  But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only black women are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive.

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.  The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

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7 comments

  1. Pingback: Psychology Today: Damage Control? « The Bloody Zebra

  2. why, oh why did you save this piece of trash??! it was taken down because so many people wrote in to Psychology Today about it not only being hurtful but about the fact that it is just plain BAD SCIENCE.

    how is it possible for ANYONE to be proven objectively unattractive?! there’s no mention of how this study was controlled for cultural bias (I guess they figured it’s not possible to control for cultural bias, so just don’t bother with the scientific part of this scientific study).

    now that PT rightfully took it down, I’m hoping it can just disappear from the internet altogether. even putting it up to show your friends how wrong it is keeps that quack visible. I know it’s your blog and I respect your right to do what you will with it – but I just want to urge you to please consider taking this down.

    thanks.

    wishing you the best
    Mazz

  3. BLACK WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL by Celine Leduc
    Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men? By Satoshi Kanazawa a doctor in psychology his article was published in Psychology Today. I READ THE ARTICLE and wondered who he interviewed and what his sources were and test subjects. I also want to know the type of questions he asked and his test audience because it seems that he was talking to members of some racist club.

    Psychologist will say I am White yet a Black women consider me to be light skinned. As a child I was told that the Devil was Black, and that Black equated ugly and less intelligent. Tintin the famous and infamous comic strip from Belgium showed in Tintin au Congo Black Africans as flesh eaters or cannibals that had big lips and distorted features, they were half dressed, drawn ugly and asymmetrical. Well it was the perception or imagination of Herger and his imagination was very far from the truth. His perspective was warped and he did not acknowledge the fact that his ancestors had gone into the Congo and had raped women, enslaved women, at times disfiguring them, and much worst. Then in his devilish way he portrays them ugly, the ugliness came out of his own prejudice and his fear of looking in a mirror out of fear of seeing the devil.

    In reading this article I remembered that I was told do not go in the Black community you are not safe, you will not be treated properly. They will look down on you. Black Women are cruel and mean and look at them they are fat and ugly. The very same people told me as a child to stop being black and loose weight. Truth be told it was a Black woman who was the first made me feel beautiful and taught me ab out fashion, she taught me how to dress up and use colors she gave me self confidence. Another Black women gave me a sense of self-worth by saying as a 10 year old child was right when I disagreed with my father because I was not allowed to play with her son, because he (a Black child) would cause me problems. My father caused me to be minus a friend yet his mom, gave me the biggest hug, that too me is beauty for she saw good in me and she acknowledge it regardless my skin tone, and how hurt she felt. Her son was in danger for he could have been hurt and beaten by racist people. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and it is objective and subjective.

    In a very objective way I can look at a women and her inner beauty that shines in her eyes, I can see the love that comes out of her smile, I can see the darkness of her skin as an added feature that is beautiful for her skin has many colors, it shimmers from gold to dark brown in the sun. I can see beautiful white teeth and I can see hair that is nice and thick. I can see that we are similar as we are women of different skin tone and complexion. Beauty comes out of the soul and radiates in the face, so please look deeper and find the inner and outer beauty of the women that stand in front of you. The inner beauty is the intelligence of the person that sparkles in her eyes.

  4. This “researcher” is known for bad science. Please ignore him, most of us in the field do-and I am trained in evolutionary psychology.

  5. This article is so sad! I feel pity for the person who wrote it and the people who would even agree to what he wrote! This is so sad! I’m a beautiful African lady and it sadden me to see this kind of articles just because I’m different than you. I hope over this person get his fear one day! May God help him!


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