Thursday, January 11, 2018

Physical attractiveness by age and by sex

I've remarked before how pleasantly surprising it was to find that the 2016 iteration of the GSS asked interviewers to assess the physical attractiveness of survey respondents they interviewed. Here is to hoping it is being repeated in the Current Year as we speak (the 2018 data is now being gathered).

The following graph shows the percentages of respondents who were rated "attractive" or "very attractive" by age and by sex (N = 2,651):

Part of the wisdom of age is being able to understand the beauty of youth. In my antediluvian phase, I'd claim this graph discredited the god of biomechanics. Men and women both bloom after puberty and then slowly but steadily deteriorate over time, you see!

For one, though, interviewers are being asked about attractiveness, not "hotness" or "f***ability". There is probably some subconscious age-adjustments being made in the minds of those grading, for example. I'd rate Lori Loughlin, at 53, as "very attractive" but in a consequence-free-night-before-the-apocalypse scenario, I'd rather bang someone on the varsity cheerleading squad. Any of them.

More importantly, that male attractiveness parallels male T-levels does not mean male sexual value follows the same trajectory as female sexual value does.

Physical attractiveness is only one of many inputs that determines male sexual value. It maxes out in the late teens and early twenties and then declines from there. But other inputs like status, wealth, confidence, and independence are as--if not more--important than physical attractiveness in determining male sexual value, and they all tend to increase with age well into adulthood before, like everything else, beginning to decline.

Female sexual value, in contrast, is predominately based on physical attractiveness. Women come roaring out of the gate but their time on top is brief. If they don't snag a quality man in the first decade--and really in the first half of the first decade--their window of opportunity slams shut.

The biggest drop offs in physical attractiveness occur from 18-24 to 25-34 for women (obvious) and from 35-44 to 45-54 for men. This corresponds to the "mid-life crisis" period for men. It's the point when the barely perceptible mellowing out of early middle age starts to give way to a decline in energy, muscle mass, skin tautness, etc that a look in the mirror each morning makes salient.

GSS variables used: SEX, RLOOKS(4-5), AGE


IHTG said...

Try to find a "Would you fuck this person?" survey.

Kentucky Headhunter said...

I find this graph to be more accurate that Rollo's (in)famous version. I always though the female curve on his needed to be nudged over to the left some.

How many times has this happened to you. You'll be someplace like a grocery store and you see an attractive woman coming down the aisle towards you. "Nice, would bang" you think to yourself, but then her teenage daughter comes around the corner to put something in their cart, and her mother drops right off you radar, blotted out by the daughter's overwhelmingly superior hotness.

Anonymous said...

Your post motivated me to check out the GSS for 2016. They also have a variable for the interviewer judging the respondent's weight. I selected for race = 2 (black) and sex = 2 (female) and correlated weight with the variable "How close feels to Whites" and get a slight "Oprah effect". The heavier the Black woman the less close she feels to Whites. No significant effect for other race/sex combinations.

Thanks for giving the heads up on the interviewer ratings.

Joshua Sinistar said...

This is the kind of misleading polling that you could see as a feminist you go grrl in Cosmo or something. One problem though. Women aren't all into looks. They want money and settle down potential. Good looking is all important for women, cause women with careers equals bitch and problems. Men get more money over time mostly. Male value accrues.

Audacious Epigone said...


Better turn "safe search" on first.

Kentucky Headhunter,

The god of biomechanics does not lie.


Hah, interesting. Small sample for now, but hopefully we'll get both questions asked again in 2018.


Don't disagree, though I tried to address all that in the post itself.

Random Dude on the Internet said...

> Women aren't all into looks. They want money and settle down potential. Good looking is all important for women, cause women with careers equals bitch and problems. Men get more money over time mostly. Male value accrues.

To be honest, I think this is overrated.

One big conflation that gets made with this is when a woman wants to settle vs. finding a man with a steady middle class job being attractive. When a woman is one of the last of her friends to be hitched, her standards drop like a rock because she doesn't want to be left out. The balding IT guy who makes $75k a year isn't attractive because he's establishing his career, it's just that he's the least worst choice of a situation she really doesn't want to find herself in, which is eternal spinsterdom.

There are still plenty of guys who are falling into the blind spot where they do earn a decent amount of money (sometimes six figure incomes) but still have no interest from women. These guys aren't even that ugly or fat, they're totally unremarkable as people
That's because if there are other attributes to be found attractive, such as power or wealth, it has to be significant enough to warrant attention.

The fear of being left behind in her circle of friends is more powerful than just about everything else. Now that this point keeps getting later and later, you get to see women past the age of 35 living that Bumble/Tinder lifestyle while thinking she has an escape route. Meanwhile the male equivalent spends Friday night playing video games and jerking it to porn before going to sleep.

I guess I'm just saying that real life experiences with friends and coworkers don't seem to line up with Rollo's graph.

Audacious Epigone said...

Random Dude,

That, societally, we could leverage that fear of soft social ostracization a little more productively. It's better than nothing as is, I guess.

Feryl said...

Isn't this more ammo that we've been a little too.....generous in our assessment of what women can bring to the rhetorical and cultural table?

Men correctly identify, and don't sugar coat, that the luster has worn off by their mid 40's.

Women flat out are in denial of not only their last phase (early 30's) that comes even close to their salad days, but they stubbornly continue to live in denial after their mid 30's, at every age bracket.

As is usually the case, men often downplay their own strengths because....Men are team oriented, and being conceited and delusional alienates your comrades (with the caveat that alpha leaders have earned the right to be jerks). Whereas with women, they literally all believe that they're princess material and have no incentive to not put themselves on a pedestal.Their loyalty begins and ends with their womb and their offspring, and whoever happens to be guarding it at the moment.

Being that we're still in a status conscious era, both sexes commit ruinous mistakes, but women in particular have been socialized to find a "rewarding career" and wait for "Mr. Right". Back in a less status conscious era (like, oh, say the 1940's-1960's), it was ok for girls to get hitched early, and they weren't that picky back then. In the ensuing decades, now that women are delaying FF so egregiously (aided and abetted by men who have been battered by globalism), they tend to strongly support weak borders and get suckered by "humanitarian" garbage. Why? Because every male body deposited in or near their backyard adds to the list of "eligible" bachelors. As soon as women get hitched, and especially if they have kids, they develop a much more defensive posture towards home and hearth and they are much less sentimental towards liberal excess and enabling various pathologies associated with big government and big globalism.

Another thing that's a no brainer is that men are programmed to be defenders and fighters, and the lion's share of men intuitively sense that weak borders is putting a tremendous strain on their ability to keep up with their god-given duty to form units and protect their land. A smallish number of elite males are part of a force designed to be at war with commoner natives, from which said elites derive camaraderie (to the extent that camaraderie exists in a status competition era). End result? Commoner natives are under siege from both elites and foreigner rabble. Kinda like the Civil War, eh?

Random Dude on the Internet said...

> That, societally, we could leverage that fear of soft social ostracization a little more productively. It's better than nothing as is, I guess.

Right. I'm not saying it's totally wrong either for sure. All young men should take care of themselves, mentally, physically, and career-wise. We should be the best we can be, especially in stark contrast to the obese dangerhairs and the soyboys who look like overgrown children on old men's bodies.

James said...

I would have to say that the graphs show that there is a disconnect between reality and what some researcher documents. My personal experience is that there should not be any appreciable difference in the number of attractive men and women after age 50. Yes there is no doubt that teenage females, females in the twenties, and some into their 30's are more attractive than men. But, women lose their attractiveness over time, some rather early. In fact, many men actually look better as they get older. Not many women can say the same. I would think that whatever method the study used to compare men and women saw women in make-up and dressed with the same obsessiveness that women engage in so they will "look their best". And then there was probably a "pity factor" in rating some women "attractive", rather than calling them a "corpse". Either that or they incorporated personality traits as attractiveness, assigning attractiveness to wanting-to-be-liked personalities, something synonymous with most women. Whatever the reason, it does not correspond to my view of reality. OK, so I'm a cynic, but still....I prefer to call it being a realist.

Audacious Epigone said...


Well, the instructions are vague. Those conducting the interviews are simply instructed to rate respondents' physical attractiveness. There's a lot of editorial privilege being granted there.

Corvinus said...


"But, women lose their attractiveness over time, some rather early. In fact, many men actually look better as they get older. Not many women can say the same."

No, James. There are a host of reasons why men and women decline in attractiveness, from diet to hard living to genetics. It is just as likely for men as they age to look poorer. Take off the rose colored, Roissy glasses.