This isn’t just a movie preview, it is also a great example of relationship science. In the trailer for the new movie Hall Pass, the guys are out at a club when they see a seemingly attractive woman (@2:14 in the clip). Jason Sudeikis’ character Fred gestures to a group of women and says “tall blonde, right here.” Another guy then points out “she surrounds herself with less attractive women to make her look like a 10.” This same guy goes on to demonstrate this idea by putting his hands up to frame the whole group, “hot…” Next, he moves his hands so that you can’t see the blonde’s friends and says “not…” as you see the woman get visibly less attractive. Fred: “that’s amazing, you’re like a Beautiful Mind.”
This is a fantastic example of the contrast effect. This can occur when you see several really attractive people (in person, on TV, or on the Internet), then see the next person as less attractive because she or he doesn’t measure up to who you just saw.1 In Hall Pass, the opposite happens as well. Seeing less attractive women creates the illusion that the tall blonde is more attractive than she really is.
So, when entering a party, let a group of less attractive people in right before you. Or, when out in a social setting, be sure to avoid hanging out near a group of supermodels.
1Kenrick, D. T., & Gutierres, S. E. (1980). Contrast effects and judgments of physical attractiveness: When beauty becomes a social problem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 131-140.
Dr. Gary Lewandowski – Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lewandowski’s research explores the self’s role in romantic relationships focusing on attraction, relationship initiation, love, infidelity, relationship maintenance, and break-up. Recognized as one of the Princeton Review’s Top 300 Professors, he has also authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences.