You may have heard that said a few times, as well as the converse, “Why are hot women crazy?” And the truth is that neither statement is true. Sure, there are jerks and crazies in any population, but often your perception is colored by Berkson’s fallacy. It’s a math concept. Slate illustrates this concept with a square, in which we assumed all men are scattered around in a fairly even manner.
Now the source of the phenomenon is clear. The handsomest men in your triangle, over on the far right, run the gamut of personalities, from kindest to (almost) cruelest. On average, they are about as nice as the average person in the whole population, which, let’s face it, is not that nice. And by the same token, the nicest men are only averagely handsome. The ugly guys you like, though—they make up a tiny corner of the triangle, and they are pretty darn nice. They have to be, or they wouldn’t be visible to you at all. The negative correlation between looks and personality in your dating pool is absolutely real. But the relation isn’t causal. If you try to improve your boyfriend’s complexion by training him to act mean, you’ve fallen victim to Berkson’s fallacy.
I might add that the men in the upper-right of the square tend to get taken out of the available dating pool at a pretty swift clip, which may contribute to the fallacy. When considering the “dating pool,” I always feel better about growing old, because while time tends to make one’s looks go downhill, it also tends to teach wise men (and women) to be nicer to each other. And what are looks when your eyesight is failing, anyway? An article at Slate explains Berkson’s fallacy in more depth and how it applies to other conundrums in life. -via Digg