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How physically attractive we feel is linked to the 'meaning of life'

how attractive we feel is linked to the 'meaning of life'
How attractiveness is linked to 'meaning of life'Sergey Mironov - Getty Images

Whilst none of us will ever really know the answer to the question: 'What is the meaning of life?' That doesn't stop us from wondering and I, for one, have often found myself staring into space and thinking about that very question for so long that I doze off to sleep. Hey, unintentional naps are elite, you heard it here first.

However, new research has shed some light on the topic, with one study finding that the more physically attractive we feel, the more likely we are to think our life has meaning. The research – published in the Journal of Positive Psychology – was made up of three studies that examined the association between physical attractiveness and meaning in life.

Study one – which used 320 undergraduate students as participants – showed that self-reported physical attractiveness positively correlated with meaning in life. Similarly, study two – which replicated the first study using older participants, with an average age of 37 – also found a connection between self-reported physical attractiveness and meaning in life, as well as finding that outside perceptions of attractiveness are linked to outside perceptions of how meaningful a person’s life is.

how attractive we feel is linked to the 'meaning of life'
Sergey Mironov - Getty Images

Study three then probed the nuances of the relationships between outside ratings and self-reports of attractiveness and meaning in life, notably finding that what we think of ourselves is of higher importance than what others think.

"Self-reported attractiveness has a much stronger relationship with well-being than observer-rated attractiveness, and there is an especially strong link between self-reported attractiveness and subjective well-being," the researchers wrote. "On the question of whether it is better to feel attractive or be attractive, it seems that the subjective feeling of attractiveness is a superior source of well-being."

"Across the studies, existential significance, or the feeling that one’s life matters, was the facet of meaning that primarily explained the link between attractiveness and meaning in life," the study's researchers added. "In addition, a person’s view of their own attractiveness is more indicative of their well-being than outsider ratings."

"It is good to be physically attractive, but life becomes even more meaningful when one feels attractive," the researchers concluded.

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