What Can Pretty Persuasion Do For Us?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated September 27, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Persuasion is often considered a complex skill. Each person reacts differently to persuasion attempts, and there are many unique theories of persuasion to consider. However, some may wonder whether your appearance determines a persuasion attempt's effectiveness—often called "pretty persuasion." Understanding this phenomenon and how to use it and recognize its influence on you can be essential. 

Learning How To Improve Your Confidence Can Be Hard

How Does Physical Appearance Impact Persuasion? 

People often hope that their persuasion results aren't dependent on their looks. Instead, they may hope that people listen to the credibility of their argument. Someone who hasn't dressed up may have a valid point to make. 

However, science shows that people are likelier to relate, listen, or look up to others they perceive as attractive. Research suggests that conventionally attractive people make around 12% more at work than their peers. However, the characteristics considered "attractive" from this standpoint may only partially relate to looks. Being well-groomed, practicing hygiene, and having a unique sense of style may also improve one's persuasive skills. 

Although attractiveness is subjective, there are often standard "attractive" features people look for in those they look up to. Attractiveness may also depend on how socially popular a person is. If someone is disliked, their physical appearance may not be as important. In addition, people one perceives as "put together" and "confident" may seem more credible due to their ability to care for themselves. Although this idea can be considered outdated, it is based on research. 

What Is The Halo Effect?

The belief that someone is a good person because they are attractive is called the halo effect. In 1920, psychologist Edward Thorndike named this concept after the halo often shown in depictions of angels. People often assume that someone they deem attractive is a "nice person." However, attractive people can be deceitful, and those who are unconventional in appearance can be kind, smart, and interesting. Appearance doesn't have an impact on personality. 

Thorndike found evidence to support his claim. He talked to commanding officers and asked about their soldiers. The commanding officers reported that soldiers considered more attractive were also considered "more intelligent." 

This observation may be frustrating to some. Children are often taught to judge others not by their looks but by the content of their character. However, this phenomenon may be scientific and social. It draws on unconscious assumptions that people make without realizing it. While it's not necessarily true that attractiveness equals success or happiness, learning to care for yourself may help you appear more capable to others. Part of this process is learning to love yourself as you are. 

How To Look More Attractive

No matter the features you were born with, it may be possible that improving your confidence could improve your attractiveness to others. How you present yourself can be heavily swayed by confidence, whether through how you speak to others, carry yourself, or prepare yourself for the day. However, confidence can take time to develop. 

You may also boost your confidence through regular exercise, a well-balanced and nutritious diet, hygiene, and expressing your personal style. Below are a few tips to get started. However, remember that you don't need to change who you are to be attractive. Being confident in yourself can be healthier than trying to be someone else. Below are a few tips to keep in mind. 

Be Authentic In Your Style 

How you dress may change how people perceive you. If you're in clothing you're uncomfortable in, it may communicate that you're not confident, even if the clothes are considered "traditional" or "fancy." 

Although grooming yourself, smelling good, and taking steps to match your attire to each event can be helpful, it may not consider your unique personality. Find colors you enjoy, styles you are comfortable in, and ways to show who you are through your appearance. Consider color analysis theory if you want to find colors that complement your features. Some professionals offer color analysis booklets to help you find clothing that makes you more elegant or helps you stand out in a crowd. 

If you have a unique style often considered "unconventional," consider what types of people you want to persuade or attract. By standing out against social norms, you may struggle to persuade people who conform to social norms. However, you may stand out more to other unique individuals looking for connections with people who aren't afraid to be themselves. In this way, you can make more genuine connections instead of pretending to be someone you're not. People may also admire your strength to be yourself. 

Pay Attention To Your Face 

People often look at the faces of others first before considering their outfits or personalities. Although there may be stereotypes in your community about what makes a "pretty face," know that what looks pretty changes depending on where you are in the world. 

Instead of changing your facial features, find role models you can look up to with those features. For example, Barba Streisand was often told to get rhinoplasty (nose surgery) to change her distinct nose to "conform" to beauty standards. However, she refused to do so, often making her a powerful role model for other women with more prominent noses. You don't have to change your face to be successful. 

Instead of changing your face, choose a hairstyle that suits your face and makes you happy, keep your facial hair trimmed, or adopt a new skincare or cosmetic routine. Some people may use bright makeup or attractive makeup designs to stand out in a crowd. Showing your skill can also garner respect and recognition. You don't have to be like others to be respected. 

Build Your Confidence 

Being confident in your appearance can be one of the most effective. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that confidence and intelligence can be equally as important as looks in attracting others. By being authentic in how you present yourself to the world, being honest about who you are, and maintaining conviction in your beliefs, you may show others that how you look doesn't change your uniqueness or intelligence in a persuasive situation. 

Learning How To Improve Your Confidence Can Be Hard

Build Your Confidence And Persuasion Skills With A Professional 

If you struggle to build confidence and love who you are, a mental health professional may be able to guide you. In some cases, a lack of confidence stems from challenges like mental illness, past trauma, social ostracization, and messages passed to people as children. Talking to a therapist can help you pinpoint these challenges and rewrite their impacts on you. 

It may be challenging for individuals to have face-to-face therapy due to barriers like cost or distance. If you relate, you may benefit from online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp. With an online platform, you can save time and money by avoiding commuting to and from in-person appointments. In addition, some online therapists offer sessions outside of standard business hours, which may benefit those with busy schedules. 

Online therapy is often as effective as in-person therapy for managing mental health conditions that may cause a lack of self-confidence. In addition, a recent review of several studies on online cognitive-behavioral therapy found it a more cost-effective option than in-person treatment for most participants. It has also been found to be as effective as in-person options in treating low self-esteem


If you're trying to persuade someone, learning persuasion communication skills is often essential. However, your appearance may also come into play due to the halo effect. Appearance can include your perceived self-confidence, how you hold yourself, and grooming habits. If you want to learn more about building confidence, consider contacting a mental health provider online or in your area to get started.

Learn the subtleties of persuasion

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started