Stereotypes of physical attractiveness and social influences: The heritage and vision of Dr. Thomas Cash Academic Article uri icon


  • Dr. Thomas Cash conducted seminal work on the beliefs and stereotypes related to attractiveness as well as their impact, and their transmission through cultural and interpersonal processes. This initial work has inspired and given rise to an important body of research significantly increasing our understanding of these processes. Here we review the initial contributions and research directions set up by Dr. Cash, as well as the main findings of the research that has built on his foundations. Specifically, we review findings related to the existence of attractiveness stereotypes and appearance ideals, research examining the social and interpersonal impacts of such stereotypes, and finally the sociocultural transmission of these beliefs. Future directions related to the extension of our understanding to appearance characteristics beyond shape and weight, as well as increased focus on minority identities and their intersection, are proposed.

publication date

  • 2019