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Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined Hardcover – January 30, 2008

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Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined + Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty + Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM (January 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814480543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814480540
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Here is a book whose title says it all. Written by an academic expert on lookism who is also director and founder of the Appearance Phenomenon Institute, this volume is an exhaustive examination of how the handily summarized PA (for personal attractiveness) gets you everywhere, from the better job and the better spouse to the better verdict at your criminal trial. Beginning with early evidence of lookism in history, Patzer analyzes preferential treatment given to pretty people from beautiful babyhood onward. While consumers of women's magazines might not find as much new information as other readers, Patzer refers to dozens of studies, articles and investigation to prove his thesis. Yet Patzer's volume doesn't offer much in the way of solutions, apparently because you've either got it or you don't. While Patzer does criticize the overzealousness of the media, reality television and unethical plastic surgeons, he only devotes one chapter to personal affirmations to help deal with and fight back on image obsession. Although he concludes by proclaiming the reader's newfound awareness of lookism's pervasiveness is a step forward, one can't help seeing the weakness in a conclusion that leaves the reader with little more than a well-argued reminder of our culture's shallow side. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description

We all know one hard and undeniable truth: Physical beauty comes with tremendous power, and tremendous benefits. Those who possess it are generally luckier in love, more likely to be popular, and more apt to get better grades in school. But very few of us realize just how much looks affect every aspect of our lives. Recent studies document that people blessed with good looks earn about 10% more than their average-looking colleagues. They are also more likely to get hired and promoted at work. What exactly is this “physical attractiveness” phenomenon and how does it affect each and every one of us?

Dr. Gordon L. Patzer has devoted the last 30 years to investigating this unsettling phenomenon for both women and men, and how it touches every part of our lives. In Looks, he reveals not only its impact on romance, but also on family dynamics, performance in school, career, courtroom proceedings, politics and government. Looks is the first book to explore how the power of beauty affects both sexes and how the rise of reality TV shows, cosmetic surgery, and celebrity culture have contributed to our culture’s overall obsession with being beautiful.

Unflinching and topical, Looks uncovers the sometimes ugly truth about beauty and its profound effects on all of our lives.

Customer Reviews

Don't let anyone try to convince you ever again that looks aren't everything in life.
J. Mills
It is nicely written for an easy and occasionally humorous read, easily accessible to a nonacademic audience.
Allan Mazur
As though merely being aware of how looks unfairly benefit others while disadvanting others were enough.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on February 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking on Amazon for a book that could tell the hard, cold, objective facts about the influence of physical appearance on general success in life. First, I found Dr. Patzer's earlier book. It seemed chock-full of studies and as much objective material as I could ask for, but the reviews complained it was too textbook-like and scholarly. Dr. Patzer must have taken the criticism to heart, because he published "Looks" in 2008, so the average layman/woman can understand the profound influence that their LOOKS can have on every single aspect of their lives.

I didn't need to be convinced of this, but I wanted some proof and data. "Looks" provides ample proof and data, along with true stories from the past and present, quotations and even statistics. For instance, did you know that highly attractive people may earn from 7.5 -15% more than their average looking peers? See page 82! "Looks" is loaded with details like this that will make you re-evaluate everything about your social and economic life -- your job, your friends, your education, even your relationships with parents and siblings.

And lest you think that this is merely a phenomenon of the modern era, Dr. Patzer has some proof that our bias towards the beautiful is not only ancient, but built into our very genetic code.

If you ever need to be convinced to lose some weight, dress for success, get your hair cut, rethink that total-body tattoo project, "Looks" is the book I would highly recommend.

Dr. Patzer also touches on the subject of "lookism" and identifies the few states that have laws that prohibit it.

About the only criticism I have is the end portion that focuses on what you can do to avoid being personally obsessed with the way you look and how others perceive you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B. Foibl on February 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book pretty much says it all. Anyone with half a brain can see that we live in a superficial world where appearances matter, but I never imagined just how much. This book illustrates the way our appearances effect almost every aspect of our lives from the way our school teachers treat us, to who gets the big promotion at work, and which stories make headline news. It's fascinating, infuriating, and definitely worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Readwalker on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Like dusting face powder on jaundiced skin, this book ignores far deeper (and graver) issues that contribute to the pre-eminence of looks, and the dominance of "lookism" (prejudice based on looks) in our society. Patzer spends but a chapter discussing how looks have historically been of prime importance (Ch. 1: Older than Civilization), and then another on the supposed evolutionary rationale behind our obsession with looks (Ch. 2: Pass the Genes, Please). Helen of Troy drove men wild and armies to war, and men like women with big breasts and small hips because such traits are indicators of fertility. Okay. The following chapters then discuss how our looks, for better or for worse, help us or hinder us at home, school, work, and love. Almost half of the book (100 pages out of ~230) is thereby devoted to a bland enumeration of the multitude of ways in which your looks seemingly control your destiny. Getting short-changed at work because of your height? Having difficulty finding a job because of your weight? Feel despondent everytime you open up a women's or men's magazine? Don't blame society, blame the way our genes make us act, the book would seem to say. It would appear that the many studies Patzer quotes are less deep and thorough evaluations of the WHY, and more surface-level explorations of the WHAT of how looks influence our society.

The last few chapters talk about the losers in the beauty game (Ch. 9: The Dark Side of Physical Attractiveness), and the individuals and corporations that stand to profit by our collective self-devaluations and sense of deficiency that lead to consumption and product-based identity building (Ch. 10 and 11: What Price for Beauty, and The Big Business of Beauty).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jaewoo Kim VINE VOICE on October 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book's research and thesis are simple: if you are not physically attractive, you are going to experience a harder life than usual given everything else is equal. A more physically attractive person, everything else being equal, will almost invariably have far better choice of partners, jobs, income, education, service, and even courtroom outcome than a physically unattractive person. You thought all those beauty obsessed people were little crazy? Well think again, given the overwhelming power of physical attractiveness, they could be the smart and sane ones in this insane world.

The book, rightfully, does not delve into moral battles of right vs wrong. That is for every individuals to decide for themselves.

What the book unmistakably makes clear, however, is that one's physical attractiveness matters a BIG deal in practically everything (even parents like the better looking child more).

So you think being overweight and unkempt has little bearing in how successful you can be and how people perceive you? Think again. Lose that weight and get a makeover. If you are physically unattractive, you are in deeper trouble than you know. The world simply doesn't like physically unattractive people very much. To make matters worse, the world LOVES physically attractive people. Ugly people definitely gets the shaft.

So make sure you look your best for the world. Be thin, dress well, practice good hygiene (including dental), and do everything else that enhances your appearance.

Plastic surgery? I can see why it could be worthwhile after reading this book. I can no longer criticize those who seek and get one.
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