How does attractiveness affect men and women’s incomes differently?

It is commonly believed that attractive people are more successful, but the empirical support for this belief is mixed. A number of role-playing, laboratory studies have demonstrated that more attractive men are more often hired, but the laboratory data for women are less consistent. Few studies have explored the effects of attractiveness on actual hiring and starting salaries for men or women. Even less work has been done on the impact of attractiveness once on the job. It was predicted that there would be positive effects for attractiveness and that the effects would be stronger as people worked longer on their jobs. To test this prediction, a sample of 737 male and female MBA graduates from the years between 1973 and 1982 was used to explore how facial attractiveness relates to starting and later salaries. Results indicated that more attractive men had higher starting salaries and they continued to earn more over time. For women, there was no effect of attractiveness for starting salaries, but more attractive women earned more later on in their jobs. By 1983, men were found to earn $2600 more on the average for each unit of attractiveness (on a 5-point scale) and women earned $2150 more. Implications for research in this area are discussed.

Source: “Attractiveness and Income for Men and Women in Management” from Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Volume 21, Issue 13, pages 1039–1057, July 1991

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