Are Beautiful People Better Athletes? Scientists Say “Yes”


Have you ever been attracted to someone who’s a super talented athlete, but not necessarily model-material? What about the opposite: Have you “known” that someone would be good at a sport based on how good looking they are?

The first phenomenon is known as “speed goggles”, or seeing fast athletes as more attractive than slow ones, and chances are we’ve all done it. (No wonder A-Rod was able to hook up with screen siren Cameron Diaz!) But what about the reverse? The idea that someone will perform better in athletic competition if they are generally regarded as beautiful or handsome. Have you thought this, and does the theory hold up?

A study performed at the University of Zurich put this idea to the test: Researchers asked participants in the study to look at portraits of cyclists competing in the 2023 Tour de France days before the start of the race. They ranked each athlete on a scale of 1 to 5, based on level of attractiveness.

The study found that on average, the cyclists who were rated as more attractive overall were the same ones who performed the best in the Tour de France a few days later. Eric Postma, a research associate of the study, theorizes that there may be an evolutionary explanation. Here’s what he told Runner’s World, which also covered the study“[High] endurance performance is thought to have been the target of selection in early hominids…if true, individuals with higher endurance capacity were likely to be better providers for their partner.”

I find this study interesting, but by no means do we thing that there’s necessarily an official link between good sports genes and good looks. After all, there are plenty of gorgeous folks out there who do not exactly excel in athletics. (I clearly remember Scarlett Johansson saying her favorite form of exercise was “stretching“.) Frankly, I’m a big fan of the saying “Strong is the new sexy”. Because drive and commitment are definitely attractive!


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