Are the Attractive People Treated Differently?
“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them” (Hume, 1975). This statement suggests that what we consider to be beautiful depends on our perception. Moreover, we tend to make assumptions about other people based on whether we consider them to be beautiful or attractive, or not. For example, a person may strive to be fashionable, cover his or her body with tattoos to create a rebellious image, dress up in strict suits to look like an academician or businessman, and so on. These are the unspoken messages projected outwards for other people, or internalized to establish self-identity, or possibly both.
When perceived as attractive, an individual is considered to possess decent psychological and personality traits. People with more attractive faces are judged more positively. They are perceived as more outgoing, socially competent, influential, sexually appealing, intelligent, trustworthy, and healthy (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo, 1991; Feingold, 1992). Psychologists call this phenomenon the halo effect. Theoretically, individuals who are perceived as attractive benefit from multiple social advantages, making them indeed more successful.
Physical attractiveness plays a significant role in the modern society; in particular, it affects the impressions we get from communicating to a person, our preferences when hiring an employee, dating other individuals, the way we behave with attractive and non-attractive people. Besides, modern popular culture greatly contributes to the matter of displaying and promoting the perfect images of attractiveness, and thus many people put a significant amount of effort in improving their appearance, hoping it will change how others perceive them.
Having attractive appearance involves the role it plays in the job market. Attractive individuals of both sexes have been found to be more likely to get a job than those who are seen as less attractive. Candidates with more beautiful faces are more likely to be successful in job interviews. Attractive individuals are considered to be more qualified for a job, receiving higher offers for starting salary and better advancement opportunities. Overall, attractiveness is the determining factor affecting hiring processes, and is thus a real advantage to those people perceived as attractive (Dipboye, Fromkin, & Wiback, 1975).
Although, we are all warned to not judge a book by its cover, we keep repeating this mistake over and over again, making our impression of people based on their appearance. Appearance affects our decision making process even in those cases when judgments should be made based rather on common sense and rational arguments than appearance. For example, the way a person looks affects the severity of legal punishment for a committed crime, or even parliamentary elections (Eberhardt, Davies, Purdie-Vaughns, & Johnson, 2006). Catherine A. Sanderson in her book “Social Psychology” claims that “The legal system may even take beauty into account — a variety of studies have found effects suggesting that attractiveness helps when it comes to verdicts and sentencing. It may be that attractive people are less likely to commit crimes as serious as unattractive people, or that there is a societal view that pretty people are “good” and wouldn’t do bad thing.” Looks like beauty has become the real factor of impact even in justice.
Regardless of the reason, the statement that attractiveness correlates with success appears to be true. Benefits of being good looking are obvious. Although we may try not to judge people by their appearance, this tendency is obvious and does not seem to be ending in the near future.
Dipboye, R. L., Fromkin, H. L., & Wiback, K. (1975). Relative importance of applicant sex, attractiveness, and scholastic standing in evaluation of job applicant resumes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60(1), 39-43. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0076352
Eagly, A. H., Ashmore, R. D., Makhijani, M. G., & Longo, L. C. (1991). What is beautiful is good, but: A meta-analytic review of research on the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychological Bulletin,110(1), 109-128. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.110.1.109
Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Looking Deathworthy. Psychological Science, 17(5), 383-386. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.110.1.109
Hume, D, & J. Lenz. (1975). Of the standard of taste: And other essays. Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Miller Company, Inc.
Sanderson, C.A. (2009). Social psychology. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.