Looks Matter

Yes, I am sure this is a shocking revelation for most of you.

Bluntly referred to as the “beauty contest experiments,” researchers have been able to determine “competent” looking bosses get paid more.

And what does “competent” mean?

Apparently more mature-looking, less of a baby face- with the older looking corner offices getting 7.5% more pay after adjusting for factors such as the size of the company, their experience etc.

Great, with my moon face, I’m screwed.

I am sure we were all told growing up that looks didn’t matter- it’s the insides that really count. And then we were told to comb our hair and straighten our socks.

We all know we should not be judging a book by its cover but we all do it- within 10 seconds of meeting someone.

Looks may not count when it comes down to actual performance and competence but it certainly plays into the perception of acumen. The article was interesting if a little frustrating and depressing- women and visible minorities were taken out of the equation because there were so few in CEO positions the researchers were concerned they may be more easily recognizable and thus skew the findings.

I wonder if the results would have been any different if the pictures were of CEOs from other countries or how the results would be affected by cultural perceptions, that is, what would they be different if the same experiment was repeated in China, Brazil, South Africa, Germany?

A bajillion years ago, when I was in grade school, I remember reading about a similar study but the subjects were children. Pictures of kids were shown to educators and they were asked to judge intelligence based on looks alone. Without fail, the clean cut, well dressed kids were perceived to be smarter than the kids who were a little rough around the edges.

These assumptions may be subconscious but how someone is labeled early on will affect a child’s entire school career and potentially the rest of their life. That someone’s success in life can be determined by something completely arbitrary is depressing.

But will that knowledge be incentive enough for me to change the way I dress?

Will I put on more make-up to make myself look older? (This works, by the way.)

Will I go on a crash diet and enforce a harsh exercise regimen to lose my chubby cheeks?

In the short-term, likely not.

In the long-term, maybe.

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~ by angryegg on May 13, 2010.

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