Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder—it is also in the eyes of the beholder’s friends. A study published in April in Psychological Science found that men judge a woman as more attractive when they believe their peers find that woman attractive—supporting a budding theory that groupthink is not as simple as once thought.
Researchers at Harvard University asked 14 college-age men to rate the attractiveness of 180 female faces on a scale of 1 to 10. Thirty minutes later the psychologists asked the men to rate the faces again, but this time the faces were paired with a random rating that the scientists told the men were averages of their peers’ scores. The men were strongly influenced by their peers’ supposed judgments—they rated the women with higher scores as more attractive than they did the first time. Functional MRI scans showed that the men were not simply lying to fit in. Activity in their brain’s pleasure centers indicated that their opinions of the women’s beauty really did change.
Read the full story: Scientific American Mind