If you ever felt like the most attractive people always have the greatest career success, you may be on to something.
As it turns out, success, at least in some part, is skin deep.
Of course attractive people aren’t always dealt the best cards — just more frequently than the rest of us average joes.
Here’s how being attractive influences success:
Drake Baer contributed to reporting in this article.
Because of what social psychologists call 'the halo effect' -- our tendency to assume someone possesses other positive qualities because the posses one -- the better someone looks, the better a person we think they are.
Thanks to this cognitive bias, attractive people tend to be paid a premium.
Daniel Hamermesh, a University of Texas psychologist who studies beauty in the workplace, has found that a person with above-average looks earning $20 an hour over a 40-year career would earn $1.69 million, while a person with below-average looks would pull in $1.46 million.
In one sample of Americans and Canadians, economists found that attractive people make 12% to 14% more money than unattractive people.
And attractive real-estate brokers have been found to bring in more money than their less attractive peers.
Because of the halo effect, experiments have shown that we consider attractive people 'as more sociable, dominant, sexually warm, mentally healthy, intelligent, and socially skilled' than unattractive people.
By the time cute kids become attractive adults, they have benefited from this bias for years, giving them higher levels of confidence.
It's a 'self-fulfilling prophecy,' say Markus Mobius and Tanya Rosenblat in a University of Michigan paper called 'Why Beauty Matters.'
Mobius and Rosenblat's experiments also found physical attractiveness to raise social and communication skills, which in return raise an employer's estimate of the worker's productivity.
This has a major impact over the course of a career. Research shows that raising kids' social skills is a better predictor of lifetime earnings than raising their intellectual ability.
As Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz previously reported, research suggests that men are more likely to tolerate unfairness from attractive women.
During a study out of Zhejiang University's School of Management in China, Chinese men between ages 18 and 26 looked at 300 photographs of faces of Chinese women who had previously been rated attractive or unattractive by another group of men. They were then shown a photo of one of the women and asked to decide whether to accept the woman's offer to split a sum of money.
The men were more likely to accept unfair offers when the woman was attractive than when she was unattractive.
Believe it or not, however, not all bias towards attractive people is beneficial to them.
As Heidi Grant Halvorson explains in her book, 'No One Understands You And What To Do About It,' a job interviewer's ego may be threatened if she is less attractive than the candidate she's interviewing, and it's likely she'd choose to go the route of avoiding competition by simply not hiring her.
And numerous studies bear this out.
'No one actually says to himself or herself, much less to others, I am threatened by this person, so there is no way I'm hiring this applicant,' Halverson says, 'but that's exactly what happens.'
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