Do Individuals Calibrate their Personalities to their Physical Characteristics? The Relation of Physical Strength and Attractiveness to Extraversion, Aggression, Dominance and Sense of Power
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The predictions of several conceptually related evolutionary theories were tested in a sample of 147 men and women. These theories pertain to the evolved functions of psychological traits including extraversion, anger and aggression, entitlement, dominance, and a sense of power. It is proposed that strength in men and attractiveness in women predicts higher expressions on these traits because of the associated cost-benefit trade-offs (Lukaszewski & Roney, 2011; Sell, Tooby, & Cosmides, 2009). In order to assess the link between an individual’s physical condition and psychological traits, numerous anthropometric variables were extracted with medical equipment, 3D cameras, and a white-light 3D body scanner. From these measures composite scores of physical strength, facial and bodily masculinity and femininity, and upper body size were calculated serving as proxies of body strength and attractiveness. The findings partly supported the hypotheses. Several of the psychological traits, such as sociality and a sense of power, were significantly associated with muscularity in men. For men, all psychological traits were associated with self-rated attractiveness. Contrary to previous research, none of the anthropometric predictors correlated with traits that assessed verbal and physical aggression for either sex. Similarly, most of the theoretical predictions regarding the association between attractiveness and psychological traits in women were not supported in this sample. The significant associations for men were interpreted as being driven by behavioural strategies related to attaining social status and were pro-social in nature. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for evolutionary theories of the calibration of personality traits to physical characteristics.
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