Self-Perceived Attractiveness Shapes Views of Social Hierarchies

Cosmetic surgery is the fastest-growing medical expenditure in the U.S, and Americans spend more on personal grooming than on reading material. Even during the recession of 2008, Americans spent at least $200 billion on products and services to enhance their appearances, according to Stanford’s Margaret Neale and Peter Belmi, now of University of Virginia. Personal […]


Attractive Appearance Helps Men – but not Women – Gain Business Funding

Entrepreneurs create jobs and contribute to economic growth with early investment by financial backers who trust the perceived business proposal’s viability and the founders’ previous experience. Additional implicit criteria for new venture-funding include gender and physical attractiveness, asserted Harvard’s Alison Wood Brooks, Laura Huang of Wharton, MIT’s Sarah Wood Kearney and Fiona E. Murray. Brooks and […]

Clothing Influences Thinking and Behavior, not Just Others’ Perceptions

A previous post highlighted the influence of the body on thinking, through “embodied cognition.” An extension of this idea is “unclothed cognition,” the impact of clothing on thinking and behavior, according to Rice University’s Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University. Adam and Galinsky considered the symbolic meaning of clothing and wearer’s physical experience by evaluating […]

When Appearance Matters for Career Development

Numerous social science studies link perceived attractiveness with perceived competence and likeability, including a meta-analysis by Michigan State University’s Linda Jackson, John E. Hunter and Carole N. Hodge. They found that physically attractive people are perceived as more intellectually competent, based on their research on “status generalization” theory and “implicit personality” theory. Women who wore cosmetics were rated […]

Perception of CEOs’ Non Verbal Leadership Behaviors Affect IPO Valuations, Predict Financial Performance

Favorable first impressions of CEOs can affect new companies’ valuations and can predict near-term performance. Perception of CEO non-verbal behavior during IPO road show presentations was associated with higher valuations at each IPO stage, found Stanford’s Elizabeth Blankespoor, Greg Miller of University of Michigan, and University of North Carolina’s Brad Hendricks. These findings underscore the importance of road […]

Does Customer Recommendation Predict Company Growth?

Net Promoter Scores gauge customer loyalty, expressed by willingness to recommend and advocate the company’s products and services to others. Its creator, Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company, posited that NPS is a more meaningful measure of a company’s relationship with its customers than customer satisfaction metrics because, he argued, it is correlated with revenue growth. […]

Racial Categorizations Change Based on Social Status Markers

Race is a changeable status marker of rather than a fixed individual attribute, according to Stanford’s Aliya Saperstein and Andrew Penner of University of California, Irvine. “Racial fluidity” – or changeable racial categorization – influences and is influenced by racial inequality in the United States, noted Saperstein and Penner. They analyzed longitudinal U.S. national survey […]

Your Brain in Court: Cognitive Privacy, US Constitution and Neuroimaging

Neuroimaging techniques, like fMRI, present constitutional dilemmas for criminal law and criminal procedure, according to University of Maryland‘s Amanda Pustilnik. These technologies raise questions about “cognitive privacy” in relation to “compelled, self-incriminating speech” under the United States Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and “unreasonable search and seizure” under the Fourth Amendment. Neuroimagery technologies can measure brain blood […]

Gender Differences in Emotional Expression: Smiling

Previous blog posts have outlined dilemmas women face in being seen as competent yet  “likeable” in negotiations. Deborah Gruenfeld of Stanford and researcher Carol Kinsey Goman note that women can increase perceived authority. if they smile when situationally-appropriate instead of consistently. They imply that observers assign different interpretations to women’s smiles than to men’s smiles. Washington University […]

How Well Do Today’s Career Choices Endure Over Time?

Career development and job search are founded on uncovering individual skills, competencies, strengths, capabilities, interests and likes. This discovery can involve introspective “personal archaeology,” often enabled by standardized career and personality assessment tools. However, social science research suggests that it is difficult to “know” preference – career and otherwise – in order to map this […]