A beautiful smile in a magazine ad, a pair of seductive eyes in a commercial, a perfectly shaped nose on the barista that works down the street at the local coffee shop. We have all experienced someone we consider attractive. According to a Businessinsider.com article entitled, “Scientists Identify 3 Reasons Why Attractive People Make More Money” Drake Baer discusses recent findings that attractive people earn approximately 12% more than unattractive people. This phenomena has been coined “the beauty premium”.
The study found that employers see more attractive people as also being more capable, more confident and as having better social skills. But why? Schneider, Gruman & Coutts (2012) believes that the human reliance on attractiveness is a form of primacy effect, meaning that information that is first received or presented to us gives the most influence in our opinion.
This tendency for bias is supported by Dion, Berscheid, and Walster (1972) who also found that people associate physical attractiveness with other positive traits, judging them to be better people altogether. Assumptions such as these are called the physical attractiveness stereotype (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). There have been a multitude of studies conducted to compare traits and attractiveness and none have found any significance in attractive people possessing “better” qualities (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).
So how can this information help? It is important to understand that while attractiveness isn’t the most important feature of another person, and is certainly driven by culture, looks should be taken seriously -especially in situations that involve being evaluated (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). However, it is possible to become attractive to another simply by being in similar situations or by having mutual interests (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). Festinger, Schachter, & Black (1950) found that attraction increased simply by being physically close. Moreland & Zajonc (1982) found that frequent interaction increased “perceived similarity”. People are more concerned with matching attractiveness, also known as the matching phenomenon (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). This can be interpreted to mean that employers are judging based on how they feel about their own looks. Again, attractiveness is all relative.
In American culture, we value those who are individualistic, and are admired by others (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). To beat the bias, there are several things one can do. Immerse themselves in situations that put them in an attractive light and increase interactions with those that one wants to associate themselves with in order to to provide other options for evaluation aside from looks. For example, perhaps begin frequenting coffee shops or restaurants that your boss enjoys. Try striking up a conversation that involves pastimes or interests of your supervisors. Become admirable in the office by excelling at your work. This idea can be extended into other areas of life such as friendships, romantic relationships, etc.
Baer, D. (2014, November 10). Scientists Identify 3 Reasons Why Attractive People Make More Money. Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/beautiful-people-make-more-money-2014-11
Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE