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Survey: Americans prefer brains over beauty, less over more

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Survey finds Americans prefer less instead of more.

A recent survey conducted among Americans shows most people prefer less to more and brains over beauty. Whether it’s gifts, personal possessions or the best looking partner, Americans seem to value less clutter and quality over quantity.

The survey, performed by ‘smart USA’ , the makers of ‘microcars’, surprisingly found Americans have deep beliefs that gluttony, overconsumption, having a lot of personal possessions or a partner with just a pretty face are not important.

The finding is important, following a decade of gluttony, it seems Americans are finally realizing how to get rid of clutter and focus on what’s really important.

Smart USA General Manager Tracey Matura said in a press release, "People are rethinking whether bigger is actually better and focusing instead on value. They're looking at how they can cut down the clutter in their lives, whether in their choice of vehicle, home or other purchases, so they have fewer, better things rather than simply more, more, more. And smart is proof that good things do come in small packages."

Americans who were polled online in December responded that they would much rather date someone who is intelligent and giving instead of someone with a pretty or handsome face.

The survey also found 3 out of 4 Americans would rather receive a gift in a small package instead of a big gift. Younger people, ages 18 to 34 that were surveyed thought bigger was better, but that notion seemed to disappear with age.

Over 2000 people were polled, including males and females, age 18 and over . Despite all the talk and focus on celebrities who behave badly and reality shows, seven out of 10 Americans said they’d rather have a partner who spoke a second language than one who had washboard abs. Three out of five respondents said they’d rather have their partner gain 20 points IQ than lose 20 pounds.

Another surprise from the survey was that 95% of women in 80% of men said they’d rather date someone intelligent and philanthropic like Reese Witherspoon or George Clooney than a celebrity with just good looks.

Consumers are making better decisions, the surveys suggest: 97% of those surveyed said they had “junk” in their household and 1 out of 10 said they could easily part with half of their household belongings.

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The finding shows most Americans aren’t obsessed with having more, bigger and better, despite popular notions to the contrary.

The finding ties in nicely with research showing money does little to promote happiness – which is tied to good health.

According to University of Warwick researcher Chris Boyce, developing countries have only seen declining mental health, highlighted in a November, 2009 study.

Authors of another study, published in the journal Psychological Science also found having the best of everything leads to little satisfaction. Researchers concluded, “This article presents evidence supporting the widely held but previously untested belief that having access to the best things in life may actually undercut people’s ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.”

Americans have a reputation for wanting the best of and more of… everything. The survey from smart USA shows it may not be so. Most consumers polled chose less over more and brains over beauty.


Smart USA
PR Newswire
February 27, 2012


University of Warwick News & Events
“Therapy 32 times more cost effective at increasing happiness than money”
Christopher J. Boyce
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick
November, 2009

Psychological Science
“Money Giveth, Money Taketh Away
The Dual Effect of Wealth on Happiness”
Jordi Quoidbach
June, 2010

Image credit: Wikimedia commons