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 more highly for attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds.
However, when raters looked at the faces for a longer period of time, ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks even though volunteers accurately distinguished between judgments of facial trustworthiness and attractiveness.
Cosmetics differentially affected automatic and deliberative judgments, found Massachusetts General Hospital’s Nancy Etcoff and Lauren E. Haley collaborating with Shannon Stock of Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Boston University’s David M. House as well as Sarah A. Vickery of Procter & Gamble.
Attractiveness was significantly related to positive judgments of competence, but had a less systematic effect on perceived social warmth.
Integrating these findings, the team concluded that attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”
Although most people recognize the bias inherent in assumptions that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, this correlation is important in impression management in the workplace, as well as in the political arena.
-*Where have you seen appearance exert an influence in workplace credibility, decision-making and role advancement?
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