More care for good-looking kids

Parents pay less attention to ugly children say Canadian researchers who observed how parents treat their offspring at the supermarket.

The researchers noted if the parents belted their youngsters into the grocery cart seat, how often the parents’ attention lapsed and the number of times the children were allowed to engage in potentially dangerous activities like standing up in the shopping cart. They also rated each child’s physical attractiveness on a 10-point scale.

. . . When it came to buckling up, pretty and ugly children were treated in starkly different ways, with seat belt use increasing in direct proportion to attractiveness. When a woman was in charge, 4 percent of the homeliest children were strapped in compared with 13.3 percent of the most attractive children. The difference was even more acute when fathers led the shopping expedition – in those cases, none of the least attractive children were secured with seat belts, while 12.5 percent of the prettiest children were.

Maybe the kids got funny looking from being dropped on their heads too often.

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  1. Bluemount says:

    Isn’t there a certain amount of social support for this affect? When children do poorly often parents are just another part of the society that can’t cope with their existance. Since so many parents rely on day care and the pressure to produce statistics is aimed at the smallest children I’m sure the behavior has increased. I believe it is an important issue for educators to address with kids, if they send a negative message about the kids parents won’t invest.

  2. Carl Larson says:

    Wow, talk about a study that was probably rife with observer bias.

    Are ugly children really more likely to be unbuckled?

    Or did the fact that a child was unbuckled bias the observer into thinking the child was ugly?

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Tom Smothers was right.

  4. Richard Nieporent says:

    I guess this “research” disprove the aphorism that states the child has a face that only a mother could love!

    The researchers noted if the parents belted their youngsters …

    This is one of the most asinine studies I have ever seen. When I started reading the above sentence I though at first they were referring to a parent who was beating his/her child! That at least would make more sense then trying to correlate whether or not a child was strapped in the cart with the “ugliness” of the child.

    By the way, how do you measure ugliness? Is their a universal scale that everyone agrees with? Also, did they control for the ugliness of the parent, i.e., why would they think that an “ugly” parent would think of an “ugly” child as being ugly? But most important what the hell does ugliness have to do with whether or not a child is strapped into a cart. Oh, our son Johnny is such a handsome child. We better make sure that he doesn’t fall out and damage his beautiful face. On the other hand, our son Fred is an ugly child so we don’t care if he falls out of the cart. In fact, let’s tell Fred to go out and play in traffic. Finally, don’t these Einsteins realize that if only 13% of the “good-looking” children and were strapped in then 87% of these children were not strapped in. Thus, their statistics are meaningless. They are basically analyzing the noise level.

    One of my pet peeves is that people in the social sciences should not be allowed to carry out studies that involve statistics when they have no understanding of the subject. This just confirms my belief.

  5. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    This study immediately reminded me of the movie “Welcome To the Dollhouse”, where the main character, Dawn Wiener is mistreated by almost everyone in her middle school, as well as her own family for the crime of being ‘ugly’…

    Regardless of the value of the study, no one can deny humanity’s preference for external ‘beauty’, whether in ancient Greece or the present-day U.S. Oh, well….sometimes life ain’t fair.

  6. Maybe more attractive children get more attention, not from their parents, but from relatives, teachers, random people on the street… The attractive child would then become overconfident, and would NEED to be strapped in to the cart so he wouldn’t fall out. The unattractive child, however, would be less foolhardy and would need less monitoring by the parent.

    Or maybe an attractive person has a better pool of mates to choose from than an unattractive person that not so many people want to marry, so attractive people tend to marry better parents than unattractive people. The attractive person would then pass his attractiveness onto his child, and the child would have both physical beauty and an attentive parent.

    Maybe there’s a genetic link between attractiveness and good parenting skills.

    I could probably think of several more theories if I sat here and bloviated long enough, and they’d all be pure guesswork… just like this study.

  7. Richard, you’ll probably be flushed with excitement to know that an actual professor of psychology and education at Yale agrees with you that the study has certain shortcomings.

    For instance, the good doctor opines, “Wealthier parents can feed, clothe and take care of their children better due to greater resources,”. It seems to me that it would then follow that poorer parents can feed, clothe and take care of their children more poorly because, well, they’re poor.

    Of course I don’t have well-executed study to support my conclusion but then I don’t have a doctorate either so I’m belaboring the obvious to no particular benefit unlike the good doctor.

  8. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    One more theory, if the child was dressed nice and had their hair combed it would be more likely to be judged attractive and to be belted.

  9. C. Kwasneski says:

    I’m generally skeptical of statistics and how they are used in “scientific studies”.

    Perhaps the study indicates that older parents have less attractive children and are less inclined to monitor their kids as well as younger, more energetic parents.

  10. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Put a spot of blood or red paint on a chicken and put it back with the flock, and the other chickens will peck it to death. There is some evolutionary value in not being different.

  11. I don’t see information on how many children were observed – with a relationship as weak as this one, it would take a whole lot of data to rise above the noise.

    But if the correlation is real, I think Ross is spot on: “One more theory, if the child was dressed nice and had their hair combed it would be more likely to be judged attractive and to be belted.” In other words, cause and effect can and probably does go both ways, and I think think Ross’s hypothesis is stronger than the researchers.

    OTOH, I’ve got fraternal twin grandsons, and the blond, prettier one does get more attention. However, he got more attention back when neither one had hair and they looked pretty much the same except for size. They were born 8 weeks preemie; one was surprisingly healthy, but the other one weighed 1 pound 13 ounce and it took a lot of top notch care for him to make it. He often had trouble breathing for the first two years. When his brother was standing up in the playpen demanding to be picked up, he would lay there, smile, and try to look cute. And now, he’s still smaller and weaker, and definitely cuter.

    So from this sample of two, one might conclude that really trying to look cute turns one blonde – without chemical assistance. 😎