Perfect-Blue Life • 05 Jun 2018
Does Beauty give you an Advantage in Life?
In many situations we automatically defer to beauty, assuming that along with beauty come all sorts of other positive characteristics. We have a tendency to think beautiful people are funnier, friendlier, more intelligent, more exciting, in possession of better social skills, are sexually warmer, and even more interesting. These sorts of judgements have been tested over-and-over again in the laboratory and elsewhere. This is a great example of the so-called ‘hallo-effect’, when global evaluations about a person spread over into our judgements about their specific traits.
Facial symmetry, considered the trademark of beauty, can be perceived as a sign of health, even if it is not related to actual health. In an Australian study, researchers morphed photographs of young adults so that their faces were perfectly symmetrical. In general, the symmetric version of each face — both male and female — received higher health ratings than the normal image. Individuals with asymmetric faces were perceived as unhealthy.
At work attractive people can receive all kinds of benefits. First of all they may get higher starting salaries, perhaps because their qualifications are perceived as more solid and their potential as greater. Then, later on, they may have an advantage in promotions. In a study of nearly 300 Dutch advertising agencies, it was found that firms with better-looking executives had higher revenues. Overall productivity, and resulting sales, were greater in companies with more attractive managers, partly because firms with more attractive workers have the competitive advantage when client interactions are involved.
“Beautiful people are typically
treated better by others”
Good-looking people can use their sex appeal to command attention and to get ahead, say in a job interview or when asking for a promotion. Attractive people are more persuasive, in part, because they also possess or develop key personality traits — like intelligence and strong social skills — that make them more effective communicators. Researchers also found that compared to unattractive speakers, attractive speakers were much more fluent talkers.
Beautiful people seem to have the upper-hand in politics too, according to a study in Finland, which found that both male and female political candidates who look better than their competitors are more successful. A better individual beauty score was associated with an increase of 20% in the number of votes for the average non-incumbent parliamentary candidate. Perceived competence and trustworthiness had less of an effect. The study authors suggest that voters favour good-looking candidates because they enjoy watching them and they fare better in social situations.
Lastly, it remains an unfortunate truth that beautiful people are typically treated better by others. In a study from Harvard University, researchers found that wearing makeup, shown to enhance a woman’s attractiveness, boosted people’s perceptions of that subject’s competence, likability, attractiveness, and trustworthiness.