Let’s look at the meaning of today’s title: “Looks can be deceiving.”
looks can be deceiving/deceptive
—used to say that something can be very different from how it seems or appears to be
The restaurant doesn’t look very appealing, but looks can be deceiving/deceptive.
I think many things and people can be deceiving, especially these days. I wish that those who are commenting on the deceiving people would focus less on their looks and more on their deeds. For example, I’m tired of hearing how
- Rudy Giuliani looks like a ghoul or a vampire (even if these observations are appropriate to the season) and
- Donald Trump looks like a cheeto or something else orange.
After all, looks can be deceiving. I’m sure there are people out there looking like ghouls, vampires, cheetos, or other odd-looking things who are honest, kind, and effective leaders. Likewise, there are people out there who look great and are deceiving, manipulative, and scary.
So why do we focus so much on looks?
… many social scientists and others who study the science of stereotyping say there are reasons we quickly size people up based on how they look. Snap judgments about people are crucial to the way we function, they say — even when those judgments are very wrong.
On a very basic level, judging people by appearance means putting them quickly into impersonal categories, much like deciding whether an animal is a dog or a cat. “Stereotypes are seen as a necessary mechanism for making sense of information,” said David Amodio, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University. “If we look at a chair, we can categorize it quickly even though there are many different kinds of chairs out there.”
Eons ago, this capability was of life-and-death importance, and humans developed the ability to gauge other people within seconds.
Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton, said that traditionally, most stereotypes break down into two broad dimensions: whether a person appears to have malignant or benign intent and whether a person appears dangerous. “In ancestral times, it was important to stay away from people who looked angry and dominant,” she said.
Women are also subdivided into “traditionally attractive” women, who “don’t look dominant, have baby-faced features,” Professor Fiske said. “They’re not threatening.”
Indeed, attractiveness is one thing that can make stereotypes self-fulfilling and reinforcing. Attractive people are “credited with being socially skilled,” Professor Fiske said, and maybe they are, because “if you’re beautiful or handsome, people laugh at your jokes and interact with you in such a way that it’s easy to be socially skilled.”
“If you’re unattractive, it’s harder to get all that stuff because people don’t seek you out,” she said.
AGE plays a role in forging stereotypes, too, with older people traditionally seen as “harmless and useless,” Professor Fiske said. In fact, she said, research has shown that racial and ethnic stereotypes are easier to change over time than gender and age stereotypes, which are “particularly sticky.”
Since I’m an older woman, I have to work extra hard to prove that I am neither useless nor any other “particularly sticky” stereotype. I’m sure I’m not alone in needing to show that looks can be deceiving.
Let’s see if looks can be deceiving in any of my photos from yesterday.
Did you know that “Looks Can Be Deceiving” is on YouTube?
I’m not deceiving when I express my thanks to all who help me create these daily posts, including YOU.