The research on this topic generally focus on various sources to determine if there is a casual relationship between attractiveness and success. This is a subject that has been under increasing amounts of scrutiny as more medical, cosmetic and surgical techniques are developed to alter an individual’s appearance. This paper will focus upon three areas where prior researcher have determined that there might be a direct relationship and look to determine if this relationship can be substantiated. The subject areas covered by this Research Paper are the effects of attractiveness, perceptions of performance, and social interactions.
Does appearance have an effect on success?
Attractive individuals of any age or gender enjoy a higher level of success by virtue of their appearance alone
The effects of attractiveness
Over the years, there have been various theories, which supporting the aspect in truth or perception a correlation between, beautiful and good. In an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology entitled What is beautiful is good and written by K. Dion, E Berscheid and E Walster in 1972 they refer to an earlier century when references reagarding the were made..
In their study the authors try to provide statistical evidence of the physical attractiveness stereotype. In this particular broad study they look at the effects of attractiveness on a person’s perceived personality traits. This is done to determine if physical attractiveness had an effect on the way others perceived them and believed that they would be enjoy more social, family and career success. The results were that attractive people were thought to be more successful in all these areas. This classic article was one of the first to establish this line of research and inquiry.
Since that time other studies conducted indicated that physical attractiveness can enhance an individual’s life and increase their chances for success. In his book Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful Daniel S. Hamermesh takes an in-depth look at this and determines that attractiveness is a factor as is body size, gender, and age. Some parts of the study claim that physical attractiveness apparently affects a person’s success in three different aspects of life.
The three aspects of life include:
- Social interactions,
- Performance perceptions
In this book not only is the perception of success and beauty investigated, but also the statistical evidence analyzed to show that attractive people enjoy greater career success. .
In another study conducted by Rebecca Pulco Published in the Journal of Undergraduate Psychological Research in 2006 and entitled Are Beautiful People Thought to be Better? An Example of the Relationship between Physical Attractiveness and Expectations she leads off with the sentence “In our society, people who are good-looking are assumed and expected to be better than the rest of the population, especially within the workforce” citing this to a study done by Kencaly, Fude & Shaw .
In her research she found that other studies held up the concept that attractive people were generally judged to be more competant. Her own limited study did not hold up this theroy. That study was conducted using 18 female undergraduate students reviewing photographs and resumes for people applying for a position at a day care center and found that these individuals did not discriminate based upon attractiveness. It is to be noted that this study only involved 18 students, all in the same age range, with a limited amount of background materials and no personal contact with the individuals they were evaluating. Because of the admitted limitations of her study she concluded that based upon the research a broader less limited study would more likely hold up the hypothesis that “what is beautiful is good.” .
The assumption that beautiful people are more successful was held out by T.H. Clutton-Brock in his book Reproductive Success; Studies of Individual Variation in Contrasting Breeding Systems. He looks at 25 different studies to determine how this theory has held out over the years. He also observes that when studying the physical attractiveness of a person, many researchers concentrate on the aspects of gender, age and a person’s body size and discuss these three different aspects, then elaborate further on the success aspect of physical attractiveness with major categories of life.
Dion, Berscheid and Walster observed that physical attractiveness entails the aspect of personal characteristics that are easily accessible to other people during a social interaction. The three most important studying areas include age of a person, the size and the gender. .
Perlini, Bertolissi and Lind summarized studies and reached the conclusion that the general perception is that what is beautiful is good. This claim regarding attractiveness stereotyping is significant throughout a person’s life. . In most cases, unfavorable characteristics including slowness and dependency on others are perceived to apply to old people. It is a common aspect that the age of a person affects the physical appearance. It is with this aspect that claim that the older the person gets, the less attractive and good (s)he is. .
Although the general perception is that age is a hindrance it is still true that in their own age group the attractive people often receive higher evaluations, are perceived as more competent and receive more income than other, less attractive persons their age.
Although the perception is that there is a general bias against older persons that is also not always the case. In one study participants were given various pictures to observe. The pictures contained images of both unattractive and the attractive old and young individuals. After viewing the pictures, judgments were made in terms of social desirability among each individual. At the end of the study, the unattractive younger people were found to be less socially desirable and compared to the attractive older generation of individuals. . This indicates that physical attractiveness is more essential than age when it comes to social desirability. One reason for this could be that older persons are perceived to have the faces they deserve. Therefore, the aspect of age is seen as an important factor when it comes to physical attractiveness.
Hamermesh found that obesity has a negative effect. Gordon Patzer also conducted an exhaustive study of research and reference materials for his book Why Physically Attractive People Are More Successful: The Scientific Explanation, Social Consequences and Ethical Problems and found that the study on obesity and obese individuals clearly brings out this aspect. These studies generally focus on individuals who have problems with obesity to observe the effect of their body size and the aspect of personality when it comes to physical attractiveness and sexual experiences. .
In one study, Wiederman and Hurst used the aspect of body size to determine individual’s physical attractiveness. .
The results of one study indicated that the body size of an individual affects various aspects in the human body including the aspect of sexual experiences, intercourse and dating. This is particularly true for women where the social stigma attached to obesity extends into their social lives. Romantic and sexual relationships are much more difficult for obese women. This is in part due to their own self perceptions rather than those of others. Therefore, the body size of a person plays a significant role in a person’s physical attractiveness and in some cases; it plays a major role in the success of an individual .
In a study regarding Body size, physical attractiveness, and body image among young adult women: relationships to sexual experience and sexual esteem the indication was that body size and image are important to women and play important roles in their sexual image of themselves. This may also interact with the general American male’s preference for tall slender women. It does seem to be less prevalent among lesbian women who put less emphasis on an individual’s physical appearance.
Gender plays a major role in the study of physical attractiveness of an individual, and in the general perception of their fitness for a certain career, social or family role. In this particular study, the male and the female outcomes were different due to gender differences. The study of loneliness among individuals suffering from obesity by Schumaker, and Krejci is the best example of this aspect. In this case, studies conducted show that loneliness and the body size of an individual are more apparent when it comes to women compared to men. .
Gender also play a role in how individuals see themselves. This could be because women are more objectified and their bodies evaluated and sexualized more than men’s are. Men place greater emphasis on women’s bodies that that which women place upon men’s bodies. That creates increased complexities for women not only in how they see themselves but also in how other see and classify them. According to the study Body size, physical attractiveness, and body image among young adult women: relationships to sexual experience and sexual esteem there apparently are documented links between women’s physical appearance, how desirable she appears to men and her attitudes towards her own sexuality.
This aspect of gender differentials contradicts the previous study in which (Kernis, Perri and Nezlek 18) claims that the male beauty has a greater impact compared to women because of the socialization aspects. Therefore, this shows that physical attractiveness effects mostly differ when it comes to gender differences.
Various experiments were conducted to prove that people who tend to make judgment and create impressions about people on how they look. Catherine Hakim based her book Honey Money on the premise that attractiveness is the key to success. In this she asserts that it is not just a matter of the basic individual body and facial structure, but also how it is presented and the appeal that it lends to an individual. .
Daniel Hamermesh also wrote a book on the relationship between physical beauty, employment and earning potential. In his book he looks back at the research studies, extrapolates the figures and comes up with his own statistics. He finds that the least attractive group of men earn 17% less than the most attractive ones and that there is a smaller differential among women of only 12%. . Although some of his results are hard to pin down he makes a strong case for the relationship between looks and income.
One of the more chilling responses to his book came from a question and answer session where one reader stated “I don’t want to know how to even the playing field. I want to know how to utterly defeat pretty people–and to do it without having to work harder or be smarter.” Signed by AaronS. Attitudes like this might help explain the smaller differential between women, who have to cope with the harsher standards of predominantly female human resource departments as well.
Landy and Segall anticipated that there was a direct correlation that exists between performance evaluation and physical attractiveness. . Individuals who participated read various essays, which were well and poorly written. They also reviewed photographs of different writers. More attractive writers were generally judged to have produced better work by men. Women who participated in studies had a tendency to view attractive women as less competent. . The study indicated mixed results about the participants. Children tend to judge their more attractive peers as less competent. Boyatzis, Baloff and Durieux tested various young children graders for the purposes of discovering whether academics or physical attractiveness is an essential aspect in deciding popularity (Hamermesh 76). At the end of the study, it was indicated that, the each hypothetical partner was either attractive but incompetent in terms of academics or unattractive with high grades.
Various studies in this context have generally focused on first impressions, which people have on others. However, (Reis 45) contradicts this aspect and specifically focusing on social interactions that exists between individuals who have once met. In this case, each of the college students that were involved in the study was told to ensure that they keep track on various aspects including intimacy, length and their interaction qualities. At the end of the practice, various pictures were taken of each student and judgments were done depending on the attractiveness levels. The results of this study indicated that attractive students had quality interactions, which were high unlike the students who were somehow unattractive.
The study also revealed that the male students who were attractive had high quality interactions with female students. However, the aspect of physical attractiveness failed to relate to quality of the interactions the female students had. . This seemingly contradicts other findings that indicate that men are more influenced by women’s appearance than women are by men’s appearance. . It could also relate to women’s propensity to judge themselves more harshly and have undeserved lower levels of self-esteem based upon their personal self-image.
Wiederman then narrows the aspect of social interactions to sexual relations. In that study the female students who participated in the practical filled out various questionnaires regarding their sexual experiences and relationship status. In this case, the female and the male judge rating was done in consideration with their body size and attractiveness aspect. The result of this study indicated that most of the students who participated in the practical had small body sizes although they were more attractive. .
Some studies indicated that the amount of sexual contact seems tied to the perception of haw attractive an individual is Individual who had frequent sexual activity were perceived as more attractive. On the other hand, the students who were virgins were less attractive. In this particular study, the aspect of physical attractiveness was significant .
Physical attractiveness is a significant aspect in defining popularity aspect from childhood to adulthood. It is with this aspect that Boyatzis, Baloff and Durieux tested various young children graders for the purposes of discovering whether academics or physical attractiveness is an essential aspect in deciding popularity , (Hamermesh 76). At the end of the study, it was indicated that, the each hypothetical partner was either attractive with low grades or unattractive with high grades.
After the exploring the context of physical attractiveness in individuals, with a focus on how physical attractiveness effects how others treat that individual and the resulting effect on a person’s success. In doing this, the study distinguished various areas of life in which physical attractiveness affects the study . These aspects include performance perception, social interaction and popularity.
The research regarding the relationship between attractiveness and success indicates that physical attractiveness has a great impact on a person’s success. The general concept of physical attractiveness is wide and can act positively in an individual’s life. However, physical attractiveness does guarantee success even though it sometimes enhances a person’s chances. It should be remembered that at times, particularly among children and women, attractive people are perceived as less competent.
When dealing with perceptions, physical attractiveness may benefit an individual in various ways. . Although there are specific situations where there is a bias against attractive people, particularly in the situations involving women and children evaluating each other as a general rule there is a demonstrable bias towards attractive people. Because of these findings there is good reason to believe that although it is no guarantee, attractive individuals generally enjoy a higher level of success by virtue of their appearance alone.
Adams, S. (2011, 8 30). Does Beauty Really Pay? Retrieved from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2011/08/30/does-beauty-really-pay/
Boyatzis, C., Baloff, P., & Durieux, C. (1998). Effects of perceived attractiveness and academic success. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 337 -345.
Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1988). Reproductive Success: Studies of Individual Variation in Contrasting Breeding Systems. Chicago, IL, USA: University of chicago Press.
Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personaliy and Social Psychology, 285-290. Retrieved from http://faculty.uncfsu.edu/tvancantfort/Syllabi/Gresearch/Readings/17Dion.pdf
Fitchel, S. (2007). What Is Beautiful Is Good: Impact of Employee Attractiveness on Market Success. Munchen.
Hakim, C. (n.d.). Honey Money: Why Attractiveness Is The Key to Success. London: Penguin.
Hamermesh, D. S. (2010). Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
Hurst, S. R. (1998, 08 01). Body size, physical attractiveness, and body image among young adult women: relationships to sexual experience and sexual esteem. Retrieved from The Free Library by Farlex: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Body+size%2c+physical+attractiveness%2c+and+body+image+among+young+adult-a021123358
Kaplan, R. M. (1978). Is beauty talent? Sex interaction in the attractiveness halo effect. Sex Roles.
Landy, D., & Segall, H. (1974). Beauty is Talent: Task evaluation as a function of the performer's physical attractiveness. Journel of Personaliy and Social Psychology, 299-304.
Patzer, G. L. (2007). Why Physically Attractive People Are more Successful: The Scientiffic Explanation, Social Consequences, and Ethical Problems. Lewiston, NY, USA: Edwin Mellen Press.
Perlini, A., Bertolissi, S., & Lind, D. (1999). The effects of women’s age. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139 343.
Pluck, R. (2006). Are Beautiful People Thought to be Better? Journal of Undergraduate Psychological Research. Retrieved from http://library.wcsu.edu/dspace/bitstream/0/36/1/puleo.pdf
Reis, H., Wheeler, L., Spiegal, N., Kernis, M., Nezlek, J., & Perri, M. (1982). Physical attractiveness in social interaction: II. Why does appearance affect social experience? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,.
Schumaker, J., Krejci, R., Small, L., & Sargent, R. (1985). Experience of Loneliness by Obese Individuals. Psychology Reports, 1147 - 1154.
Weiderman, M., & Hurst, S. (1998). Body size, physical attractiveness and body image among young adult women: Relationships to sexual experience and sexual esteem. The Journal of Sex Research, 272 - 282.