Even before Hillary Clinton‘s historic 2016 campaign for President of the U.S., attorney and image consultant Orene Kearn,questioned the impact of Clinton’s appearance on her perceived competence as US Secretary of State.
Perceived attractiveness was correlated with perceived competence and likeability in a meta-analysis by Michigan State University’s Linda A. Jackson, John E. Hunter, and Carole N. Hodge.
They reported that physically attractive people are perceived as more intellectually competent, supporting status generalization theory and implicit personality theory.
Women who wore cosmetics were rated more highly on attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds, found Harvard’s Nancy L. Etcoff, Lauren E. Haley, and David M. House, with Shannon Stock of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Proctor & Gamble’s Sarah A. Vickery.
However, when participants looked at the faces for a longer period of time, ratings for competence and attractiveness remained the same, but ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.
Volunteers accurately distinguished between
judgments of facial trustworthiness vs attractiveness and attractiveness was related to positive judgments of competence, but less systematically to perceived social warmth.
The researchers concluded that cosmetics could influence automatic and deliberative judgments because attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”
Most people recognize the bias in assuming that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, yet impression management remains crucial in the workplace and in the political arena.
-*Where have you seen appearance exert an influence in workplace credibility, decision-making and role advancement?
- Acknowledge Potential Employer “Concerns” about Gender, Attractiveness to Get Job Offer
- Self-Perceived Attractiveness Shapes Views of Social Hierarchies
- The Attractiveness Bias: “Cheerleader Effect”, Positive Attributions, and “Distinctive Accuracy”