Whether you were filling out your job application, or editing your Tinder profile to boost your matches, you might have wondered what qualities you should emphasize to make yourself seem most appealing. There are so many situations where you are asked to summarize yourself in just a few words, but you so complicated!! So what should you do?
Thankfully, this very important new research uncovers what qualities have the most social currency in 2019. A new study published in PLoS ONE replicated a classic study from 1985, in which students at the University of North Carolina were asked to rank 154 traits on their desirability. In the mid 80s, the top 5 most desirable traits were: reliable, honorable, responsible, friendly, and cooperative. The top 5 least desirable were: liar, dishonest, rude, phony, and dishonorable.
The 2019 study showed some marked differences from the earlier results. Nowadays, the most desirable traits are: intelligent, reliable, loyal, attractive, and responsible. The 5 worst traits are: dishonest, incompetent, unpleasing, dishonorable, and liar.
The results may seem pretty similar, but #1 most desired trait in 2019, “intelligent,” had barely made top 10 in 1985. This seems reasonable granted that in the past three decades, our society has become increasingly competitive and inequitable. Higher intelligence is being valued more as a response to our uncertain socioeconomic clime.
Even more revealingly, “attractive” wasn’t even in the top 50 desired traits in 1985. Does anyone else feel like this results from our mindbogglingly visual culture, in which our photographic identity is publicly paraded for mass consumption? Back in the stone ages of 2004-05 when I went to prom, we took photos using Kodak disposable cameras that had to be developed at Costco. We actually bought wallet-sized prom photos taken in front of a fake gazebo that we all later traded with our friends. So it was okay if you looked dorky in your photos (not speaking from experience or anything), because that could get buried and forgotten easily. Now, being perfectly photogenic at all times is almost expected as a form of politesse, or professionalism.
Not all is lost here, however. The truth is that qualities like reliability, loyalty, and responsibility are still very prized, and have nothing to do with a beguiling bone structure. Phew!
So who wants to change their profile description to “intelligent, reliable, loyal, attractive, and responsible” and report back on the findings? Let us know😉 !
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