Can you be too attractive to get hired?
Think good looking people get all the breaks? Apparently they do. Studies repeatedly show that attractive people are better off than their homelier lesser humans — that they earn better salaries, get better jobs and are less likely to be convicted of crimes. Also, they get free stuff.
But wait! It’s not always that simple. Never is, right? A recent study I found through Yahoo! News and the Toronto Star shows that sometimes being overly winsome can work against you.
Maria Agthe of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich is lead author of a paper titled “Don’t Hate me Because I’m Beautiful,” published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
There were two tests. The first involved 2,639 students told to pretend they were on a scholarship selection committee. They were given information on and photos of three finalists. The attractiveness of the candidates in the pictures had been determined in advance by an unconnected group of 40 students.
Both men and women reportedly chose the most attractive candidate far more often than the least attractive, with men being slightly more biased toward the comely candidate than women. But that was only when evaluating members of the opposite sex. When evaluating same sex candidates, they weren’t so inclined to favour the beauties.
In the second test, 622 students were asked to play the role of recruiter and were again given pre-evaluated pics. This time the attractiveness of the evaluator was also assessed.
The results were the same — opposite-sex candidates were favoured while same sex candidates were not. But it turned out that good looking people did not disadvantage other equally good looking people. They only held attractiveness against someone who was more attractive than themselves.
Agthe told the Toronto Star that, while men were simply “unimpressed” by a male applicant’s handsomeness, “Women actually discriminated against beautiful same-sex candidates.”
These findings both confirm and differ from these ones: http://scienceblog.com/cms/who-knew-good-looking-people-get-better-jobs-14974.html
OK, it’s not the discovery of penicillin. Most of us could have guessed that people (women) view more attractive people (women) as competition. But now we have scientific proof! On the other hand (I’m of two minds about pretty much everything), doesn’t “They’re just jealous” sound like the sort of thing under-qualified people tell themselves?
No wonder I couldn’t get a job for five years when I first moved to Toronto!
The takeaway? It would seem that, if you are a stunningly gorgeous individual (woman), the prudent thing to do before interviewing for a job would be to find out if the interviewer is of the same or opposite sex as you and, if possible, how hot they are. Then prepare accordingly.
The Star gets into the question of how this “attractiveness bias” might be removed but…really? Does this actually deserve serious consideration? I somehow doubt there’s an underground of starving beautiful people living under a bridge somewhere because they weren’t given a fair shake.
Or am I being too harsh? Think you’ve been passed up for a post because you were too devastatingly good looking? Know someone who has? Discuss!