Why Hiring Beautiful People May Backfire


I’m sure in an ideal world we’d all be able to get the jobs and careers we want based on nothing more than our talents and abilities. I’m equally sure, however, that we all appreciate that this isn’t the case.

I wrote last year about a study that explored how our looks influence our success in job interviews. The study found that our looks played a different role depending on both our gender and also that of the recruiter. For instance, if the recruiter was the opposite sex to the applicant, then prettier applicants tended to get rated more highly than their more plain looking peers.

When the recruiter was the same sex as the applicant, however, the reverse was the case, with plainer looking candidates getting a leg up.  The researchers suggest that we tend to favour beautiful people because we have an instinctive belief that beautiful people tend to get an easier time in life, and, therefore, our decisions reflect this.

The Perils of Hiring Beautiful People

Alas, while it appears that beautiful people may have more luck in interviews, a recent study suggests that they may not make the best recruits. It suggests that beautiful people may well be more selfish and less equal than their more plain looking colleagues, at least if they’re men that is.

“The results suggest that better-looking men may be biased towards being more selfish and less egalitarian. The correlation between attractiveness and selfishness was nowhere close to being perfect, and many very attractive men will also be very altruistic and egalitarian,” the authors say.

The study utilised a 3 dimensional body scanner to analyse the bodies of 125 men and women.  The researchers used measures such as the waist to hip ratio of women and the waist to chest ratio of men to then determine the attractiveness of each body.

Each participant was also required to fill out a questionnaire designed to measure their personalities on things such as selfishness and equality in the workplace.

A seperate group of participants was then shown each of the body images and asked to evaluate both how attractive they were, and also how selfish or altruistic they believed each person would be if they met them in real life.

The results revealed that people usually expected the beautiful people to be more selfish and less bothered by the welfare of others, although in reality this was only the case for the men in the study.

“We found that the ‘raters’ perceived better-looking men and women as being less altruistic and egalitarian. Our results showed that in fact we may be justified in expecting more attractive men to behave in ways that are less favourable to economic and social equality,” the authors say.

All of which isn’t so good if you’re a beautiful woman, as people seem to under-appreciate your selfless ways.  It suggests that not only do our perceptions need a rethink, but we might also need to question the apparent bias towards recruiting beautiful people.  At least that is, if we desire to have a collaborative workforce.

Are you a recruiter? Do you think that you ever hire people based on their looks? Your thoughts on comments below please...

Bodily attractiveness and egalitarianism are negatively related in males




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