Easy on the eyes, you’re hired.

I know that this blog post is a bit behind, but I wanted to dedicate a bit of time to a privilege that wasn’t talked about very much in class- the attractiveness privilege.

Before we get too far into this subject too, let’s make a few things clear. Contrary to popular beliefs beauty is not as subjective as we would like to think it is. There are traits that are considered beautiful the world over. Symmetry for example, both the symmetry of the face and body. Smooth skin, shiny hair, broad jaw lines on men, etc.  Also, the positive effects of beauty are not felt by only one gender, or race, or any other factor.

Let’s  take a look at a few examples of the attractiveness privilege.

Firstly, attractive people are viewed as being more healthy, or being in better health than their less attractive counterparts. http://psych.colorado.edu/~tito/sp03/7536/Rhodes_et_al_2001.pdf

Secondly, attractive people are viewed as more trustworthy, more likeable, more competent, and more qualified regardless of experience. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025656

Thirdly, attractive people are viewed as more intelligent. And if you believe this study then they may very well be. http://psych.colorado.edu/~munakata/teaching/prosem05/ProkoschEtAl05.pdf

These factors combined can create a real advantage. For example, when one is interviewing for a job first impressions are key. The more intelligent, trustworthy, competent, and healthy individual is most likely the more desirable candidate. These qualities may only be skin deep, but they may not be.

I don’t want the takeaway to be that we should attribute the successes of attractive people purely to their looks, but more that we should not judge a book by its cover, or the candidate by their shiny hair and strong jaw line.

One Reply to “Easy on the eyes, you’re hired.”

  1. I absolutely agree that attractiveness is a privilege, definitely unearned, and likely magnified through culture. It’s an unfair biological advantage, and unfortunately, there are places in the world where pictures have to be tacked onto resumes and plastic surgery has wide social acceptance. Like you said, the effect of beauty is felt for both genders, but at the same time, there’s also an imbalance in that women seem to have more pressure to look “good” in very specific, hard-to-achieve ways. Biological inclinations are difficult to defy. I guess it may help to be aware of these privileges.

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