Two questions: are you an attractive person? And, do you vote Conservative or Labour? You may think the questions are not related, but they are. Studies have shown (always a good phrase) that attractive people tend to move to the political right, while the ugly mugs tend to the left. The theory behind this is that attractive people have more social interaction, have better relations with schoolteachers, are more credible, have more useful contacts, and have a higher self confidence to support their resolve for achievement.
And there’s more to it than that. Standing in the dock you have a better chance to be found not guilty; in a civil case you are more likely to win and to get higher damages. The attractive child is less likely to be seen as the aggressor in a squabble, and more likely to be seen as intelligent. Go for a job interview and you have a better chance of being chosen. And so it goes on. You may think that appearances shouldn’t matter, but in fact they do. You may think that you do not judge by appearances but most of us do just that. And the final danger is that we are usually not aware of this bias, we like to think we are being fair.
Of course this is only a tendency, it’s easy enough to pick out attractive socialists or plain jane right-wingers – but nevertheless it makes a difference, and a difference which can follow us throughout our lives. Since I live in between socialism and toryism, but belong to neither, I must assume that my own attractiveness level is also somewhere in the middle.
It faces us again with the same old question: is God fair? Why are some people born with disadvantages, while others leave the starting line with a spurt. Why was I born in the leafy suburbs when I might have been born in so many countries where decent life and reasonable security is impossible – we hear about them every time we turn on the wireless.
Do I feel guilty about this? Not really, my guilt lies in my failure to use my natural advantages sufficiently to help those who are without them.