More and more studies now highlight the fact that facial features tell a great deal about the person. Even the subtle differences in appearances can be judged by others in split second to assess whether you are competent and trustworthy, or going to be a leader or a follower.
In an interesting study quoted by David Robson of BBC, Christopher Olivola at Carnegie Melon University says: “Although we like to think we make decisions in a rational way, we are often swayed by superficial cues. And appearances are a particularly superficial, yet very strong cue.”
Given our obsession with celebrity culture, physical beauty may appear the greatest source of face-ism. Some economists have estimated that more attractive people can earn 10 to 12% more. Honesty, in particular, is thought to show itself all over one’s face, and assessing positively for trustworthiness, one is likely to be lent money – just as another study highlights that given the same evidence, people who look more trustworthy are less likely to be found guilty!
Now with online profiles, we can form impressions before we talk to someone, before we even meet them. Suppose you are hiring a new assistant. You may have every intention of reviewing a CV objectively, but once a photo has planted a seed of bias in your mind, it may be too late. It can change the way we interpret the subsequent information. Bonnefon agrees that “It’s probably impossible to train people not to make the impressions – it’s an automatic behavior.”
In her book “Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital”, Catherine Hakim emphasized that physically attractive women and men earn more than average-looking ones. Beauty is naturally rewarded in jobs where physical attractiveness would seem to matter. It is true that good-looking women seeking high-flying jobs in particularly male fields may be stymied by the “bimbo effect” until they prove their competence. But the importance of beauty in the labour market is far more pervasive than one might think.
A Chinese study confirms that the husbands of unappealing women earn about 10% less than those of their dishier counterparts. Attractive people also have an easier time getting a loan than plain folks, even as they are less likely to pay it back. They receive milder prison sentences and higher damages in simulated legal proceedings. Pretty people, it seems, have all the luck. Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, has long written about “pulchronomics”. In “Beauty Pays” he reckons that, over a lifetime and assuming today's mean wages, a handsome worker in America might on average make $230,000 more than a very plain one. There is evidence that attractive workers bring in more business, so it often makes sense for firms to hire them.
In examining the case for legal protection for the ugly, Mr Hamermesh relies to a degree on the work of Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University and author of “The Beauty Bias”. She struggles to see why any woman would willingly embrace fashion (particularly high heels). She is outraged that virtually all females consider their looks as key to their self-image. She cites a survey in which over half of young women said they would prefer to be hit by a truck than be fat. Her indignation is mostly moral. Billions of dollars are now spent on cosmetic surgery—up to 90% of it by women. The more women focus on improving their looks, Ms Rhode argues, the less they think about others.
Catherine Hakim's provocative book sees an opportunity for women to enhance their power “in the bedroom and the boardroom”. She argues that “erotic capital” is an underrated class of personal asset, to set beside economic capital (what you have), human capital (what you know) and social capital (who you know). Ms Hakim attempts to quantify a complex mix of physical and social assets, consisting of beauty, sex appeal, self-presentation, social skills, liveliness and sexual competence.
As social interactions keep evolving, we find sexualised images everywhere, and the world that has emerged is one in which no one can afford to pretend beauty does not matter. Men too, having lost their monopoly of well-paid jobs, are investing in their appearance to enhance their appeal to mates and employers. They are marching off to gyms and discovering face cream in record numbers.
Our concern with these findings is from the point of the need to maintain beautiful appearance and healthy pleasant looks. At Herbally Radiant we always recommend natural beauty products for enhancing beautiful looks in healthiest manner possible. In the competitive times, beautiful appearance is a very useful tool for navigating efficiently and successfully.