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Good looking people get better jobs
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December 07, 2007

If you are good looking, then you surely have an edge over any other average looking person, especially if the interviewer is of the opposite sex, revealed a study.

According to a study, hiring practices are dramatically influenced by a bias towards attractive interviewees in terms of high and low status job packages offered.

The study was led by Carl Senior and Michael J.R. Butler of the New York Academy of Sciences.

"When someone is viewed as attractive, they are often assumed to have a number of positive social traits and greater intelligence," said Carl Senior and Michael J.R. Butler.

They added: "This is known as the 'halo effect' and it has previously been shown to affect the outcome of job interviews."

The researchers looked at how the halo effect influenced a mock job negotiation scenario where male and female interviewers were made to see pictures of attractive or average looking male and female job applicants.

Interestingly, it was found that the female interviewers assigned attractive looking male interviewees more high status job packages as compared to average looking men. They also preferred attractive men over attractive women and gave them more high status packages.

Similarly, average looking men also got more low status jobs than average looking women.

However, male interviewers were not biased in the number of high or low status job packages that were given to attractive looking interviewees of either sex.

Infact, overall, the male interviewers gave out more status job packages, irrespective of the sex of the interviewee. But, the male interviewers still had their preferences.

EDR, The electrodermal response, a psycho-physiological response measured when emotions are used to make a preferential decision, of the interviewers was calculated.

It is believed that, when emotions are involved in order to make a preferential decision, the anticipatory EDR level increases.

A considerable increase was noticed in the anticipatory EDR when the male interviewers allocated the low status job packages to the attractive female candidates.

However, this difference only occurred while assigning low status job packages, ensuring that the effect had nothing to do with interpersonal attraction, but rather it was driven by emotion.

As female interviewers did not exhibit any significant EDR differences, it was implied that their bias occurs on a cognitive level.

This was the first application of EDR to examine the influential role of beauty, status and sex during job negotiations.

"From a business point-of-view, there is a need for leaders/managers to be aware of their assumptions in decision-making processes, be they strategic or operational, and that they may be prone to emotion and bias," said the authors.

This study, entitled "Interviewing strategies in the face of beauty: A psychophysiological investigation into the job negotiation process," is published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.


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