Network Evolution and the Beauty Advantage
Current theories of network evolution presume that actors consciously seek to occupy advantageous positions in networks. We relax this assumption, and argue that status characteristics-e.g., attractiveness-are sufficient to generate favorable network positions without agentic behavior on the part of the actor. Specifically, in a series of experiments, we find that people believe that both male and female actors who are described as more attractive are more likely to occupy advantageous positions in networks, irrespective of other important characteristics (e.g., competence). Moreover, our results indicate that when people select actors to fill advantageous network positions, they are more likely to select more attractive rather than less attractive actors. Together, our results support our argument that actors need not be agentic in their pursuit of favorable network positions to achieve these positions. For some, centrality finds them.