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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Beautiful people 'ruin' lives
People BBC
High aspirations could be ruining our love lives
Beautiful people are ruining others' chances of happiness. At least, that is the conclusion of mathematicians, who have found out what many people have known for years: personality is more important than looks.

Jennifer Lopez BBC
The average man can forget about a date with Jennifer Lopez
Unrealistic expectations of finding a partner with film star good looks are creating an unhappy society, believe the researchers.

Instead of fantasising about George Clooney or Jennifer Lopez, people would be better off picking a partner according to random personal preferences.

The research, reported in New Scientist magazine, is based on a mathematical model that gauges the happiness of society based on the way people pair up.

The test, originally invented in the 1960s by researchers at the University of California, showed that if people were ranked randomly for attractiveness, everyone should be able to end up with a reasonably satisfactory partner.

'Vogue factor'

But two other mathematicians decided the test was unrealistic in a society bombarded with images of the ideal man and woman.

Actor Jude Law PA
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Guido Caldarelli, from the University of Rome, and Andrea Capocci, from Fribourg University in Switzerland, decided to put beauty into the equation.

They devised a new test, with a "Vogue factor", by which some people were considered intrinsically more attractive and desirable than others.

Each computer-generated person in the model was given an intrinsic beauty, and a weighting factor U was introduced which determined how much influence beauty had on society.

When U equalled zero, as in the 1960 test, all 1,000 people in the test found a partner ranked at 70 or better in their list of preferences.

Unhappy society?

But when U was even slightly greater than zero, the best-looking people rose to the top of everyone's wish list. In this case, even an averagely attractive person might have to make do with someone they judged no more than 900th on the beauty list.

Actor George Clooney PA
Heartbreaker: George Clooney
As a result, society became measurably miserable. Only the lucky, beautiful few found what they wanted.

Dr Caldarelli, interviewed in New Scientist magazine, said: "Even if the more beautiful players have a larger satisfaction by far, the general dissatisfaction in the system increases.

"When the concept of 'most beautiful in the world' tends to be the same for everyone, it becomes more and more difficult to make more people happy."

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Sex 'remains a mystery'
27 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
The smell of success
24 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
Women's choice of men goes in cycles
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