Are Attractive People More Successful in the Workplace?

There’s been a lot of research studies done in the past about whether or not a person’s appearance has a positive impact on their work status, success rate, and salary. Do you think being good-looking really makes a difference at your job? Written by Juliet Rocco

“Do you think I’m pretty enough?” You’ve heard this subject come up in discussion before. Do attractive people really get treated better and make more money? Maybe you’ve even experienced it at your job or in the classroom before. The research results below are from a psychological test where participants were asked to view faces for .25 seconds and rate them on a 7-point scale ranging from “not at all” to “highly/extremely.”

Percent chance that an attractive person receives a callback after an interview – 72.32%

Percent more that attractive workers earn than unattractive – 10% Average lifetime earning difference – $230,000

Percent of salary increase based upon standard deviation increase in facial symmetry – 8%

Makeup vs. No Makeup: Competency – 4.2 vs. 3.7

In my humble opinion: People who take the time to care about their appearance and groom themselves show they are taking their job seriously. Whether it’s a clean shave or applying makeup, people are going to take notice. The way you dress and carry yourself also plays a role in attractiveness.

Of course, your natural look will be a major deciding factor. Studies have shown humans are most attracted to symmetry, including facial symmetry. Cross-cultural studies also show agreement of attractiveness based upon facial symmetry.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” When you look good and take pride in your appearance, you exude a form of confidence that others can see. Everyone has different ideas of attractiveness. Look at your group of friends and the co-workers you associate with most. Chances are, they are at a similar level of attractiveness as you. It is a natural human tendency to surround oneself with those who possess similar levels of physical attractiveness.

Where things get ugly: Paying a more attractive employee who possesses average work ethic over an intelligent yet unattractive employee is discrimination. We can all agree on that. Humans have a bad habit of falling for the ‘halo effect’ or assuming that since a person is good looking, they will also be good at their job.

Takeaway: While these results may not seem “fair”, it is an unfortunate truth that we as humans have adjusted to. I think it’s important to stay focused on a person’s intelligence and work ethic over physical attractiveness because a pretty face is only going to get you so far.


Statistics: American Psychological Association, Smart Money, Princeton University

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