The cliched correlation between attractive people and career success seems to have existed ever since pretty people starting holding jobs. Surprisingly, the issue isn't limited to water cooler gripes -- it's been the subject of legitimate research time and again. While most research shows that attractive folks do indeed experience greater job success, there are plenty of unexpected details to delve into alongside this predictable conclusion.
You can't be successful if you don't get hired, and attractive people seem to have a leg-up in this department. "How your face looks can significantly influence the success of an interview,” says Rice University's Mikki Hebi speaking to “Psychology Today.” Similarly, a 2013 study conducted by the College of Wooster found that a group playing the role of recruiting officers were more likely to predict positive job performance from attractive applicants.
A 2009 study of both men and women conducted by the University of Florida over the course of 14 years found that physical attractiveness had measurable positive impact not only on how much money people earned -- it also positively influenced their level of education and their self evaluation, reports "Science Daily." Similarly, a 2007 MSNBC and “Elle” magazine report shows that 58 percent of attractive female bosses were highly rated by their employees, compared to only 41 percent of average-looking bosses and 23 percent of those considered unattractive.
Intelligence and Beauty
"The Economist" speculates that the job interview advantage for good-looking people exists because people, including hiring managers, tend to project positive traits onto attractive people. While this type of correlation boils down to subjective human perception, some data exhibits concrete proof. "There is a clear monotonic positive association between physical attractiveness and intelligence," writes "Psychology Today" in 2009, based on information collected by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
The Flip Side
The College of Wooster's study presents a less-predictable caveat: while physical attractiveness positively affected hiring probability, researchers found that this was only the case when attractiveness was coupled with a high-quality resume -- physical attractiveness had no impact on hiring evaluations when resumes were of low to average quality. Even Tim Judge, the PhD behind the University of Florida study, warns against relying solely on prettiness. In an interview with "Science Daily," he notes that overall, intelligence, education and relevant job skills can ultimately trump good looks when it comes to career success.
- The Economist: Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful
- Psychology Today: “I'm Successful Because I'm Beautiful” -- How We Discriminate in Favor of Attractive People
- Science Daily: Intelligence and Physical Attractiveness Both Impact Income
- Psychology Today: Beautiful People Are More Intelligent I
- MSNBC: Power of Attraction Still Rules in Workplace
- The College of Wooster: Libraries: Digital Resource Commons: An Economic Analysis of Discrimination in Hiring Practices with Regard to Physical Attractiveness
- Business Insider: Are Good Looking People More Successful?
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.