Do we have a bias for or against attractive people?

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Within organizational judgment and decision making contexts, biases based on an evaluated person’s attractiveness are among the most salient and frequently investigated. An enormous amount of research indicates favoritism for attractive people compared to unattractive ones. The current research demonstrates that the nature of this bias depends on whether one is evaluating a member of the same sex or the opposite sex. Experiment 1 (n = 2639) investigated selection of scholarship applicants and demonstrated that a pro-attractiveness bias held only for selection of opposite-sex scholarship applicants; no such bias was observed for highly attractive same-sex applicants. Experiment 2 (n = 622) investigated evaluations of prospective job candidates and demonstrated again that pro-attractiveness bias was observed only for opposite-sex candidates; participants discriminated against highly attractive same-sex candidates. Moreover, this bias was not observed among highly attractive participants; it held only for moderately attractive participants, those for whom highly attractive same-sex individuals can pose especially potent social threats. Findings suggest that attractiveness biases in organizational decision making are rooted partly in the social threats and opportunities afforded by attractive people.

Source: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful: Anti-attractiveness bias in organizational evaluation and decision making” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 46, Issue 6, November 2010, Pages 1151-1154

Hat tip: Vaughan Bell

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