Beautiful people less likely to land undesirable jobs

People are more likely to assume that attractive people will be too entitled to fit well in low-level jobs.

A good-looking person walks into the room to interview for an unglamorous support position. How do you react? According to a new study, people are likely not to hire them – assuming, instead, that such employees would be dissatisfied with less desirable jobs.

The research, which was conducted by researchers from London School of Economics, Singapore Management University, and INSEAD, involved four different experiments involving almost 500 general participants and more than 260 hiring managers.

Prior research has found that people treat physically attractive people more favourably. This favourable treatment could be manifest in terms of hiring them for jobs, singling them out for promotions, and giving positive performance evaluations.

However, these previous studies haven’t considered less desirable or interesting jobs – such as being a warehouse labourer, housekeeper, or customer service representative – or how decision makers tend to make assumptions about prospective employees based on certain perceptions.

For example, the first of the four experiments found that physically attractive candidates are expected to feel entitled to positive outcomes. The second experiment found that this perception of entitlement meant they were less likely to be hired for less desirable jobs.

The third study tested these findings in a “real-life” situation, by inviting participants to the lab. When the participants chose who to work with, they were more likely to want to work with an unattractive partner for less exciting work (e.g. combining matrices). The fourth and final study validated these results among actual hiring managers.

“Our results suggest that… attractive people might be systematically discriminated against in a segment of the workforce,” wrote the researchers.

“We hope that our work motivates a scholarly as well as managerial effort to promote fairness and efficiency of decision making in relation to less desirable jobs, which might be more relevant for many people who lack better options and opportunities in life.” 

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