Nearly three-quarters, 74%, of adults believe that an unattractive smile can hurt their overall career success. After new research has surfaced, however, it looks like in addition to attractive smiles, general physical attractiveness provides significant benefits in the workplace and in life.
According to Above the Law American businesses have a problem with “lookism,” which apparently dates back to the 1800s.
Lookism can be defined as “discriminatory treatment toward physically unattractive people; mainly in the workplace but also in social settings.”
American workers have been dealing with this type of appearance discrimination between the 1860s and 1970s, when several U.S. cities had “ugly laws” that deemed it illegal for individuals who were “unsightly” or “unseemly” to appear in a public setting.
Reported in Business Insider, a “Why Beauty Matters” paper detailed three reasons why attractive people, unjust as it may be, are more successful in the workplace than everyone else.
The University of Michigan study found that physically attractive people are considered more able workers by employees; physically attractive employees are more confident, subsequently earning higher wages; and physically attractive workers have desirable social skills that result in higher wages as well.
“Physical attractiveness raises social and communication skills, which in return raise an employer’s estimate of the worker’s productivity,” said Markus Mobius and Tanya Rosenblat, two UM scientists and co-authors of the study. “We assume that the employer is unaware of these biases and hence does not correct for them.”
Unfortunately there is no quick fix. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the majority of skin care products take at least six weeks to begin working and improving the look of someone’s appearance. Many people try all sorts of beauty remedies to improve their looks, including cosmetic surgeries, upgrading their wardrobe, and focusing more on weight loss, but being deemed “attractive” or “unattractive” in the workplace is often extremely subjective.
The benefits of being regarded as attractive in today’s society don’t stop at the workplace, either. A Cornell study, “When Emotionality Trumps Reason,” found that physically attractive people even benefit in a court of law.
Unattractive defendants have been shown to receive much longer, harsher sentences than their attractive counterparts, as they serve, on average, 22 months longer in prison. The study’s lead author, Justin Gunnell of Cornell, added that although 22 months may not seem like a significant amount to an outsider, “I guarantee that to the person serving the sentence it will seem like a lot.”