People Rate Themselves Better Looking Over Time

The next time you look in the mirror and wonder, "Is it just me, or am I just so much better looking than I was yesterday?" -- don’t worry. It is just you, but you’re not alone.

A new study shows people may actually perceive themselves as growing more attractive over time.

Researchers found that a group of female undergraduate students perceived themselves as more attractive than they were a few months ago, while another group believed they’d be even more attractive in five years' time.

Good Looks Get Better With Age

The results of the study, scheduled for publication in a future issue of the Journal of European Social Psychology, suggest that people may be motivated to appraise their past selves in a way that allows them to be positive about their current selves.

In regard to physical attractiveness, researchers say people can feel good about their current self by downgrading their past self and enhancing their future self.

In the first experiment, researchers asked 20 female undergraduates to rate how attractive they were now compared to their peers -- as opposed to their attractiveness at the beginning of the academic year.

Gazing Into the Future

Overall, the study showed that the women perceived themselves as more attractive now than in the past, especially if attractiveness was an important part of how they viewed themselves.

In the second experiment, researchers asked another group of 25 female undergraduates to rate their attractiveness now to how attractive they thought they would be in five years' time.

The results showed participants rated their future self more attractive than their current self, suggesting that there’s always room for improvement when it comes to good looks.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed By Ann Edmundson, MD

SOURCES: Haddock, G. European Journal of Social Psychology, April 24, 2006. News release, John Wiley & Sons.