Much comment has been generated about Western society’s current obsession with appearance, so we are far from happy to report that economists at the University of Texas-Austin claim to have evidence to support the idea that beautiful people in fact are happier, wealthier and generally more successful than their plainer counterparts.

This new study asked participants to reveal their own levels of happiness before their looks were rated either in face-to-face interviews or in photographs. Those placed in the top 15 per cent rated themselves as 10 per cent happier than those rated in the bottom 10 per cent.

It has long been thought that both men and women who most obviously conform to the standard definition of beauty are more successful in interviews and more likely to attract elevated salaries. Their superior appearance also helps them to attract partners who are similarly attractive and high earning.

Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas-Austin has studied the subject of beauty for years and is singularly unsurprised by these findings. “For a woman, it just matters to walk down the street being good-looking. It hurts to walk down the street being bad looking,” he says. “For a man, beauty’s direct relation to happiness is not as great. It will give you a better-looking wife, a higher-earning wife and — most important — extra earnings.”

Unfortunately, for those of us who don’t resemble Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, the only beauty that matters is the natural sort. Don’t think that you can buy it with cosmetic surgery. “I know all the cosmetics folks and clothes folks say they can make you prettier, but the evidence for it just isn’t there,” Hamermesh states. “It doesn’t help much. … Your beauty is determined to a tremendous extent by the shape of your face, by its symmetry and how everything hangs together.”

Thank goodness we discovered this before being tempted to waste our money on costly Botox treatments!