Attractiveness Attracts Success

You knew that. We all did. We knew that, or at least are not surprised to hear that:

Studies show that you’re more likely to get hired if you look well-groomed, that good-looking people make about 12% more money than less appealing folks, and that attractive real-estate brokers bring in more money than their less attractive peers. Indeed, according to a just-published paper on the 2018 congressional midterms, more attractive candidates are more likely to get elected.

It appears that it is not exactly about the looks though. It’s more about what the looks convey

What Attractiveness Conveys

Really, what is it with our collective obsession with looks? Evolutionary psychologists might tell us that good looks have all along conveyed fecundity (male and female ability to reproduce) and the good health necessary for it.

Height in men, low hip to waist ratios in women, face symmetry for men and women…indicating strong and healthy mating material for our babies and the generations to follow.

So it wasn’t attractiveness for its own sake. It was what the attractiveness conveyed that made the attractive the preferred—in a way that is by now really baked in.

Psychologist, Nancy Etcoff, author of “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty,” tells us that no one is immune:

When Eleanor Roosevelt was asked if she had any regrets, her response was a poignant one: she wished she had been prettier…. In Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “I was frequently subject to moments of despair. I imagined that there was no happiness on earth for a man with such a wide nose, such thick lips, and such tiny gray eyes as mine…. Nothing has such a striking impact on a man’s development as his appearance, and not so much his actual appearance as a conviction that it is either attractive or unattractive.” (pp.6,7).

Men and women of such outstanding achievement. As Etcoff said, we are all affected. Some more than others for sure. (And I have written about this myself in “Getting to G.R.E.A.T.”)

But no one is immune—to what attractiveness conveys. And what it conveys—like power, confidence, strength, health, success—can be very attractive, not just to mate seekers, but to employers as well.

Enter the recent University of Buffalo, School of Management study on this very topic. And what they found via their 300 video interview pitches, was that, yes, it is true that attractiveness was associated with higher manager ratings of hirability.

But not because they were cute. Because the attractive people exuded greater confidence, power, more effective nonverbal presence… And, by the way, this starts really young.

Studies show that kids and adults gravitate to people who are more attractive. This makes the attractive little ones happier and more confident, and people find happy and confident attractive, so people gravitate to them even more. And on and on it goes like compounding interest.

Seems unfair—except we don’t really need to be naturally gorgeous to convey the qualities. In other words, there are ways other than having a perfectly symmetrical face to convey things like confidence, health, strength, and power.

How To Convey Attractive Qualities Even With A Bad Nose
  • Power Posing:The authors of the University of Buffalo study mention power posing (adopting a larger, more expansive rather than a smaller, more contractive posture) as a way to feel and convey more confidence. Notwithstanding the controversy, last I read the data supported that the contracted postures did leave people feeling and being perceived as less confident in themselves.
  • Power Pausing:Check out this earlier post I wrote on data supporting what Mark Twain said about the power of the pause, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”Another good way to convey confidence and command attention, having nothing to do with looks.
  • Ease Depression: Looking for a mate or a job can be depressing, not to mention other things that get people down, especially in these times. And, notwithstanding our best efforts to erase the stigma, depression is not generally considered to be a particularly good look. Darwin actually wrote many years ago that it can be seen in our hair. So here’s a post on how even as little as 3 weeks of exercise can help out with that, and below something on grooming too.
  • Grooming: Yep, I said that, grooming. Forgive me, but there is Harvard research on that: “When comparing women who wore makeup versus what they look like bare-faced, participants in a 2011 Harvard study viewed the groomed woman as more attractive, competent, likeable, and trustworthy.”
  • Meditation: Of course, I am going there, so read on here for all the many ways that meditation promotes inner confidence and well-being that tends to glow and show on the outside wherever we go.

A lot here to unpack. Let us know what you think!



Photo by Elias Castillo on Unsplash