Every woman knows how hard it is to get ready in the morning. Between the shaving, the plucking, the moisturizing, the fluffing, and the polishing, making yourself beautiful is a big commitment to make before you’ve even had your first sip of coffee. Once you start calculating the amount of time you’ve spent straightening your hair and putting on makeup, you start to wonder if all the effort is really worth it. After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Right?
Of course, but that doesn’t mean we always know it. It’s a stereotype that pervades movies, television sitcoms, and stand-up routines–pretty people are treated differently than their average-looking peers. Unfortunately, this cultural belief has some truth to it. People tend to ascribe positive attributes to the people they view as attractive, rating them as more sociable, happy, and successful than their less attractive peers, a phenomenon known as the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype. This short-cut in thinking can lead to real-world consequences; the effect has been observed with teachers’ perceptions of students, voter preferences for candidates, and even in simulated juries.
Good-looking people are often seen as more intelligent than other people, which can help explain why the “what is beautiful is good” stereotype applies to evaluations of job applicants. The more attractive a job candidate, the greater the likelihood that they will be hired. Though this effect has been shown for both men and women, there are some catches for female candidates. When applying for traditionally feminine positions, pretty women are rated more highly than less attractive women, even when participants are told that their qualifications are the same. However, when applying for positions that are typically viewed as masculine, attractive women are seen as less capable than less attractive candidates.
I guess this means all the fluffing is worth it. Until you get your dream job, at least.