Beauty and the Repeat

It's deja vu all over again. Three years ago, the FC team blogged about a report by Hal Varian that indicates that good-looking people often have better-paying jobs.

According to this morning's New York Times — and a new report by Varian — it's... still... true.

While my first reaction was to perhaps accuse Varian of trotting out the trite and true, he does consider some new research done by economists at Harvard and Wesleyan. Why Beauty Matters was published in the March issue of American Economic Review.

The short form?

  • The beautiful are no better at solving mazes than the average looking.
  • Beautiful people are more confident about their abilities.
  • People tend to think beautiful people are more productive — even when they aren't.
  • Beautiful people come across as confident on the phone as well as in person.
  • Good-looking people tend to be good communicators.
  • When the beautiful fail, folks feel let down because expectations are higher.

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5 Comments

  • Tim

    I find it iteresting that one reader mentioned height in the comments. That is another interesting area of prejudice. Being tall is worth $1000 per inch, if I'm not mistaken. It seems it is better to be 6' tall and "average" looking than good looking and short - unfortunately for many of my best friends. Talking negatively about shortness seems very socially accepted and I know that it hurts my shorter friends.

  • Alexa Ronngren

    Confidence and a good attitude make a person appear more beautiful. I have seen people who are pretty, look gorgeous when they are in a good mood and people who are normally attractive look downright ugly. And it is that same confidence and positive attitude that makes a person more likely to succeed. That kind of beauty does open doors. However, without substance to back it up, it is nearly impossible to walk all the way through those doors.

  • bill smith

    I'd like to see the definition of beautiful. Every time I ask someone, a different answer crops up.

    As a man, can you be 5' 8" 170 pounds? As a woman can you be 5'5" 125 pounds? Or does a man need to be 6' 185 and woman at least 5' 10" and let's not mention weight?

    How big of a bust must a woman have? Some like it big and others small.

    Should skin be white, brown, yellow - or as my color blind son would say, "orange".

    The truth is that society has plagued most with an unsightly blight called insecurity. As the above writer mentions; even models think the worst.

    As a traveling salesperson, I've traveled to every major city in this nation and talked to almost every retail executive. Some of these indivduals are male others female. Most have 7+ figure incomes and that's without the decimal places. All have the common trait of common looks.

    It may matter at the bottom and middle of the food chain, but at the top it's a different 'model'.

  • Vicki

    Read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink", paying attention to chapter 3 "The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark, Handsome Men"

  • roger fulton

    to my limited area of experience I must disagree in one area: from my dating years, I found that engaging in close, personal relationships with models, they were anything but confident about themselves. Considered beautiful by the outside world, they produced an "act" for the runway, conscealing hidden flaws; i.e. nose at an angle, eyes not even, teeth or smile not correctly aligned, shoulders uneven.
    Models are the WORST critics of their own appearance, and absolutely viperous of the competition. Their favorite epithet was, " she ought to have a scar across her face," meaning she was much too beautiful.