The Heritability of attractiveness and intelligence

Intelligence and beauty are correlated and sexually attractive people are often more intelligent than less attractive people.

This is the conclusion of Kanazawa’s and Kovar’s paper in 2011, Why beautiful people are more intelligent.

By baking four auxiliary assumptions their logic is sort of solid and not that holistic, when you first look at it. And assume that there are no other components. The problem with this is that their theories are highly deductive and ignore the fact of individual preferences in partners.

The Four Assumptions

“ #1. More intelligent men are more likely to occupy higher status than less intelligent men.

#2. Higher-status men are more likely to mate with more beautiful women than lower status


#3. Intelligence is heritable, such that sons and daughters of more intelligent men are more

Intelligent than sons and daughters of less intelligent men.

# 4. Beauty is heritable, such that sons and daughters of more beautiful women are more

beautiful than sons and daughters of less beautiful women.”

(Kanazawa, S. & Kovar, J.L. (2004). Why Beautiful people are more intelligent).


They also mention in their own paper that the same assumptions goes for aggression and attractiveness and that if a person is super gorgeous – they are most likely super aggressive as well.

Beautiful people who submit a photo with their CV are more likely to be called to interviews, and if they are attractive in real life as well they seem to have higher employability. This is however Not the case for beautiful women. More attractive women are actually Less likely to be employed, due to a “dumb blonde theory”, and they experience discrimination instead of benefits for their looks.  The reason for the higher employability rate among appealing males could be a halo effect, or is it that there is a pre-programmed mechanism in the brain that already knows that a good looking person IS more employable?

This system is already supported; it is called “reward system” and was discovered by Guégen in 2007. He tested this by using women with different breast-sized to see if the size of their lovelies would affect their “help-rate”. The results where: Bigger breasts – more help.

A reward system in the brain tells us to reward beautiful people because they are more intelligent and deserve our help. They are also more employable because they are more intelligent and will do a better job than someone who is not as beautiful. Personality can be seen in the face of an individual and therefore an employer is able to look for desirable or non-desirable personality traits in a job applicant.

These results strongly supports that a beautiful person earns the opportunity to be more successful than his or hers less attractive compeer.


Kanazawa, S. & Kovar, J.L. (2004). Why Beautiful people are more intelligent

Guégen,N. (2007). Bust size and hitchhiking: A field study. Perceptual and Motor Skills: Vol. 105.. doi: 10.2466/pms.105.4.1294-1298

Ruffle, B.J & Shtudiner, Z. (2011) Are good-looking people more employable?
doi: 10.2139/ssrn.1705244.

Little, A.C., Burt, M.D & Perret, D.I. (2006). What is good is Beautiful: Face preference reflects desired personality. Personality and individual differences. Vol. 41, 1107-1118.


5 comments on “The Heritability of attractiveness and intelligence

  1. lealeason says:

    This is a nice blog but I think you got several things wrong: A reward system in the brain does not tell us anything, it only rewards us when we are seeing a beautiful person of the opposite-sex (Aharon et al., 2001). When straight men look at an attractive male face, the same reward circuitry is not activated, even though they can still identify the face as attractive. In fact, research even suggests that attractiveness might simply be a by-product of information-processing systems and is not a true indicator of quality (Garcia, & Ramirez, 2005)!
    Also, no study sais that beautiful people deserve our help, we are just more likely to help them. In fact, beautiful people are judged to be more competent even in unrelated and specific tasks (Webster, & Driskell, 1983) and more intelligent than less attractive people (Jackson, Hunter, & Hodge, 1995). Therefore the pre-eminence of beautiful people might be the result of expectations and not of actual advantages and it is the the pre-eminence of beautiful people that makes us help them and not that they deserve our help!

    Aharon, I., Etcoff, N., Ariely, D., Chabris, C. F., O’Connor, E., Breiter, H. C. (2001). Beautiful Faces Have Variable Reward Value: fMRI and Behavioral Evidence. Neuron, 32, 3, 537-551.

    Garcia, C. & Ramirez, E., (2005). Evidence that sensory traps can evolve into honest signals. Nature 434: 501–505.

    Jackson, L. A., Hunter, J. E., & Hodge, C. N. (1995). Physical attractive- ness and intellectual competence: A meta-analytic review. Social Psy-
    chology Quarterly, 58, 108–122.

    Webster Jr., M., & Driskell Jr., J. E. (1983). Beauty as status. American Journal of Sociology, 89, 140–165.

  2. The conclusion that beautiful people are more intelligent follows the assumptions : “(1)- Men that are intelligent are more likely to attain higher status than men who are less intelligent. (2) Higher-status men are more likely to mate with more beautiful women than lower-status men. (3) Intelligence is heritable. (4)Beauty is heritable “(Satoshi Kanazawaa,*, Jody L. Kovar). Intelligent men will obtain a better job and a better level of life as they will probably have good qualifications . Men value beauty when choosing their partner and not so much wealth and status. On the other hand women often feel the opposite and don’t value so much the appearance of their partner, but value the wealth and status. According to this statement, men with a high status can basically attract the most beautiful women , and if beauty and intelligence is hereditable ,the child of a couple which the parents have beauty and intelligence, will have it also. If this four assumptions are empirically true, then the conclusion must be true . There must be a correlation between beauty and intelligence . One the other hand if the man ( 1) that is intelligent and can attract women is not attractive , that disapproves this theory , because it would be someone who is intelligent but not attractive. An example that disapproves this theory is the example of Albert Einstein ,someone who was genius but not attractive. The existence of a case that does not fit in this theory is enough to disapprove it.

    • You are absolutely right, all that is needed is one case where an intelligent and attractive male is attracting or attracted by an intelligent but less attractive female ( or the other way around!) ruins Kanazawa’s and kovar’s assumptions.
      It could be argued that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and personal taste decides whether we find someone attractive or not. We also have cultural differences to consider, Swami & Tovée (2007) found that people from the UK and Finland ( Scandinavia) find smaller BMI attractive whilst along with Jones & Hill’s (1993) findings that men from the United States and Brazil prefer average proportions and find more neotenous features more attractive among females.

      Moreover Johnston & Franklin (1993) found that beauty is not subjective as subject as many may think and that attractive does not lie within the eye of the beholder. They discovered beauty of the face depends on a specific set of features in certain proportions.(Golden face ratio). People can also identify others as beautiful and have attractive attributes, without necessarily being Attracted by them. This was discovered by Rhodes in 2006 when participants (Both men and women) rated the attractiveness of same-sex photos.

      I personally i think that Einstein was a bit of a womanizer 😉

  3. psuf01 says:

    In your blog you mention research suggests that attractive people are more intelligent than less attractive people, however, what about the typical stereotype of ‘geeks’. They are seen commonly in movies as being less ‘sexually attractive’ than other people, however, they are portrayed as the most intelligent.
    The four assumptions of Kanazawa & Kovar (2004) suggest that if your parents are attractive then you will be attractive, and if they’re intelligent, you will also be. However, there is no research that suggests that intelligence or attractiveness is 100% heritable, there is always going to be other factors involved, such as environment. If a child of two people who were classed as intelligent didn’t go to school or wasn’t educated, how would they be ‘intelligent’ or have a high IQ if they couldn’t read or write? Watson (1924) suggested that if he were in a controlled environment where he could control all variables, then he would be able to make any child become a doctor or a lawyer, which I agree with. I think anyone can become a doctor or a lawyer if they work hard at it and have the right attitude, which is purely environmental and learned is it not?

  4. psuf02 says:

    The main problem with Kanazawa’s and Kovar’s theory is the assumption that intelligence is heritable. Although intelligence is heritable Posthuma, De Geus, Baaré, Pol, Kahn and Boomsma (2002) did find that there are biological influences on intelligence which are primarily genetic. However there are also may environmental factors which can affect a person’s level of intelligence or other attributes which may lead to success. However children with more successful parents are possible raised in a better environment (. Bouchard (1998)) Although this effect stops after a certain socio-economic level.
    Bouchard. (1998). Genetic and environmental influences on adult intelligence and special mental abilities. Human Biology. Retrieved from;jsessionid=3xBtKBBdyCuGix48lybW.4
    Posthuma, D., De Gaus, E. J. C., Baare, W. F. C., Pol, H. E. H., Kahn, R. S. & Boomsma, D. I. (2002). The Association between Brain Volume and Intelligence is of Genetic Origin. Nature Neuroscience, 5(2), 83-84. Retrieved from

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