- Psychology & the public
- What we do
- Member networks
- Careers, education & training
Prettier killers are seen as more guilty
Women who kill their abusive partners are more likely to be perceived as guilty if they are deemed attractive. This is the suggestion of new research from the University of Granada, which studied police surveys on domestic violence crimes.
Published in the European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, the findings go against the common mental association that associates beauty with being good.
Authors of the study Antonio Herrara, Inmaculada Valor-Segura and Francisca Exposito told SINC: "One of the most interesting conclusions of the study was that when the woman accused of killing her abuser was attractive, participants attached greater culpability, whereas if considered unattractive, this decreases."
They explained women who do not fit the stereotype of the battered woman and appear to be in control of a situation are often viewed as guiltier than those who are more prototypical.
It was noted that law enforcement officer and police training might therefore be conditioned by external variables, including stereotypes linked to domestic violence and physical attractiveness.
Professor Ray Bull, an Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society, comments:
"This finding fits in well with earlier research (see the 1988 book by Bull and Rumsey) which has found that participants are more 'negative' towards attractive women who use their 'looks' in unfair ways."