However, experimental research, as well as evidence from online dating and speed dating, shows that physical attractiveness is equally important to men and women. Further, attractiveness tends to be a more important factor in our dating decisions than traits like personality, education, and intelligence (Eastwick et al., 2011; Eastwick and Finkel, 2008; Luo and Zhang, 2009; Kurzban and Weeden, 2005; Sprecher, 1989; Thao et al., 2010). (Mis)matching in physical attractiveness and women's resistance to mate guarding. doi:10.1177/0146167208320387 Perilloux, C., Fleischman, D.
Physical attractiveness may be so important to us because we associate other positive qualities with a pleasing appearance. Personality and Individual Differences, 87, 190-195.
For example, attractive individuals are expected to be happier and to have more rewarding life experiences than unattractive individuals (Dion et al., 1972; Griffin and Langlois, 2006).
To interest us, then, potential mates do not need to be exceptionally attractive, only moderately so. Implicit and explicit preferences for physical attractiveness in a romantic partner: A double dissociation in predictive validity.
The distinction between (Li et al., 2011) can help us understand the importance of a moderate level of physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(5), 993–1011.
More attractive people tend to perceive fewer others as physically attractive while less attractive individuals may consider a broader range of others appealing (Montoya, 2008). Parent-offspring conflict over mating: Testing the tradeoffs hypothesis. Buss, D., Shackelford, T., Kirkpatrick, L., & Larsen, R. A half century of mate preferences: The cultural evolution of values.