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Are Good Looks an Advantage or a Disadvantage at Work?

A lot of attractive people complain that people assume things about them without getting to know them. It’s assumed that they’re unintelligent, superficial, and even arrogant.

You’ve been given the gift of physical attractiveness, which has to mean you’re lacking in other areas. In the social world, you’re just the pretty boy or girl.

But does that perception carry over into the professional world? Is there a bias against people who are good-looking?


Green Without Envy
Economists Markus Mobius of Harvard University and Tanya Rosenblat of Wesleyan University did a study to see how looks affected the hiring process. They divided participants into five groups:

  • Two of the groups never saw a photo of the candidate or the candidates themselves
  • The other three either saw the candidate’s photograph or in-person.

The groups who saw the candidates were much more likely to hire the more attractive candidate, even though the less attractive candidate was just as qualified.

These employers predicted that the attractive candidates would be more productive, and would be rewarded for it with higher pay.

Even Greener Pastures
Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the economics of beauty. Dr. Hamermesh has focused on how beauty effects financial success in the workplace.

His research confirms the results of the study we just referenced – that beauty gains an advantage because the doors of opportunity open more frequently. So they make connections, learn skills, and grow professionally. Then they’re able to leverage that first opportunity into many more opportunities, which results in even higher pay.

He also offers little hope for the unattractive. His research has shown that spending money on things to enhance your looks is a waste. You’ll only get back about 15 cents in pay for ever dollar you spend.

Our bigg quote today is by an unknown author:

“We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty,
some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names,
but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”

The more colors you have, the more colorful your world can be.

Questions for you

Socially, we often hear pretty people complain that they’re discriminated against. But research seems to show that it works to their favor in the workplace.

From your experiences, do you think good looks are an advantage or a disadvantage?

Is there a difference between men and women? Are good looks more important in the workplace for men or for women?

How about age? Is this something you think affects young people more than older workers or vice versa?

What do you think of Dr. Hamermesh’s finding that it doesn’t pay to try to package yourself better? Do you think it makes a difference?

Share your thoughts by leaving a Comment.


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(Image by svilen001)

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Age Matters: Bridging The Generation Gap


Today’s show was inspired by an episode of the television show Monk, called Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy.  In case you’re not familiar, Monk is the “defective detective”. He has an amazing gift to see details that don’t fit, but those same traits lead to his idiosyncrasies.

During this episode, Monk and his team are at the murder scene of a young woman when they get called to another case – the gruesome murder of a young man. It’s believed that the two murders are unrelated.

However, there’s a serial killer on the loose who will kill again in 36 hours, according to the note he left on the young man’s body. The mayor immediately calls on the FBI. They send in a very high-tech unit staffed with young techno-savvy agents.

A tug-of-war ensues between Monk’s team and the young agents. They think Monk’s methods are outdated. Monk thinks they are missing something.  In the end, he puts the pieces together and realizes that the two murders are related.

So here are 5 lessons we can learn from Monk and the young agents.

#1 – Just because “we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t make it right.
For example, there’s a lead on the case. The young agents, using their technology, find the fastest way there. Monk and his team dismiss it because of all the red lights. The young agents, using their technology again, turn all the red lights green.

Lesson: Don’t resist change. If there’s a better way, don’t be stubborn – adopt it.

#2 – Just because it’s new doesn’t make it better.
The young agents could profile suspects with their technology. Unfortunately, that led them to a totally innocent person. Meanwhile, Monk solves the case with old-fashioned methods – getting inside the mind of the killer.

Lesson: Focus on getting the right result. Then find the most efficient way there, whether that’s old or new.

#3 – Speed is good but only if you already have direction.
See the bigg picture before you dive into the details. Then you’re ready to move fast!

#4 – Don’t view each other as competition.
The two sides felt that they had something to prove – that there way was better. Had they worked together, they could have solved the case faster. Appreciate the differences – your respective strengths and weaknesses. Focus on how you complement each other because there are lessons to be learned on both sides.

#5 – Age doesn’t matter when learning new ways, even if they’re old ways.
Some wisdom is timeless. There may be leading-edge ways to use that timeless wisdom. But remember this, they’re both valuable!

Speaking of technology, can you imagine trying to explain to Monk how to subscribe to our RSS feed?

It’s an easy way to quickly browse our daily show topics. Click on the link at the bottom of today’s blog to subscribe. There you go – technology made simple!

Our bigg quote comes from J.B. Priestly, who said:

“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age – I missed it coming and going.”

You may be a young gun or you may be an old fart. Just don’t let the age difference keep you apart.

Or you can bridge the generation gap … and be young at fart!

Next time, we’ll discuss the seven step system to solve any problem. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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(Image by Jeff Kubina, CC 2.0)