A group's physical attractiveness is greater than the average attractiveness of its members: The group attractiveness effect

Y.M.J. van Osch, Irene Blanken, Maartje H. J. Meijs, Job van Wolferen

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17 Citations (Scopus)


We tested whether the perceived physical attractiveness of a group is greater than the average attractiveness of its members. In nine studies, we find evidence for the so-called group attractiveness effect (GA-effect), using female, male, and mixed-gender groups, indicating that group impressions of physical attractiveness are more positive than the average ratings of the group members. A meta-analysis on 33 comparisons reveals that the effect is medium to large (Cohen’s d = 0.60) and moderated by group size. We explored two explanations for the GA-effect: (a) selective attention to attractive group members, and (b) the Gestalt principle of similarity. The results of our studies are in favor of the selective attention account: People selectively attend to the most attractive members of a group and their attractiveness has a greater influence on the evaluation of the group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-574
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • group attractiveness effect
  • group evaluation
  • selective processing
  • social cognition
  • physical attractiveness
  • cheerleader effect
  • perceptual averaging

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