Do beautiful people earn more money?
22nd OF October 2012
If you’re on track to become a model, or an actress, it goes without saying that your looks are going to play a big part in whether or not you get hired and promoted. But for those of us going down more traditional career paths – do looks really matter?
By Chloe Schneider
According to Daniel Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas and author of the book Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful, the good looking actually do enjoy more career success than people with below-average looks and not just in the hiring stages.
It comes as little surprise to hear that better looking people get hired faster – interviews are about first impressions after all – but one would assume that when it comes to promotions and pay rises, looks would no longer be decision-influencing factor. Hamermesh says this is far from the case. In fact, attractive people, both men and women, earn an average of 3 or 4 per cent more than people with below average looks. That’s a whopping $230,000 more in a lifetime. Beautiful people also get to enjoy getting promotions more quickly and experience more ‘work perks’. The dividing line doesn’t end there, either - even an average-looking worker is likely to make $140,000 more over a lifetime than an ugly worker.
It’s difficult to determine an exact reason for this phenomenon since it is generally more of a subconscious part of the decision-making process but can be assumed that since customers prefer to buy from better looking salespeople, the good-looking therefore may be seen as more valuable employees and harder workers than their less fortunate looking counterparts.
Beyond sales, beautiful people have more self-confidence and this trait influences how they are perceived at work. He writes, “Another possibility is that beauty and the attractiveness of one’s personality are positively related, and that it is the general sparkle of one’s personality, not one’s beauty, that increases earnings.”
Interestingly, Hammermesh’s findings also showed that, except for the morbidly obese, ratings of looks were independent of weight and the slight changes plastic surgery might make do little to dispel a person’s natural looks. So, in summary, we’re sort of stuck with what we’re born with.
This study is hardly the first of its kind. Researchers have time and time again discovered that beauty is a factor in a person’s success in various ways. This may seem a little disheartening but the good news is, no matter what your looks, you will achieve if you go into a field you enjoy, accentuate your strengths, and avoid doing things where you are disadvantaged. And, as we recently reported, being beautiful might not be all that good for your love life.
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