The research looked to celebrities for fresh insights into the splits of power couples such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Picture: Reuters

Beautiful people may appear to have it easy in life. But it turns out they are unlucky in love as their relationships are more likely to break down, research reveals.

It explains the high rate of Hollywood divorces – the study found that being attractive is a "relationship liability".

Even if people are not looking to poach you, being good-looking makes you more likely to cheat and be attracted to others.

Although few people will be reaching for their violins, this leads to a higher break-up rate. The research, published in the journal Personal Relationships, looked to celebrities for fresh insights into the splits of power couples such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. 

Researchers found that top celebrities were more likely to be divorced and had shorter marriages. Two women were then asked to judge the attractiveness of 238 men from a high school yearbook. Men who were rated most attractive were also more likely to be divorced or have short marriages.

Researchers also found that when good-looking people were shown photographs of people of the opposite sex they rated them as attractive – which is said to be a "relationship-threatening behaviour", suggesting they might be tempted to cheat.

Lead author Dr Christine Ma-Kellams, of the University of La Verne, California, said: "There are a lot of good reasons why we pick people who are good-looking: because facial symmetry in men can be a sign of health and virility, and beauty in women a sign they have good hormones for reproduction. The message is that we all value physical attraction but it may make people who are unhappy in their relationships more likely to pursue alternative relationships and so perhaps it is not always a good thing."

The study also suggests that people can fall victim to ego if they feel more attractive at the time.

After being made to feel more beautiful by being shown pictures of unattractive people, some rated their own attractiveness more highly. They then rated pictures of strangers more highly.

This could mean that when people feel more beautiful, they are more likely to be interested in infidelity.

Previous studies have found that while good-looking people get paid more, are happier and assumed by others to be friendly and intelligent, there can be several downsides. One is that other people may be jealous, which could make life difficult.