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Beauty, Brains and Money - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Beauty, Brains and Money

May 21, 2009

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Today’s competitive job market has led millions of people to rewrite their resumes, update their skills and redefine their expectations. Now a new study argues that while beauty and brains are still powerful combinations for the workplace, getting that education may be the most important factor after all.

Beauty counts in the workplace because of the following reasons:

  • Early in Life Bias: The relationship between attractiveness and influence on others has been validated by thousands of studies and begins in early life. From babies to adults, we all orient to an attractive face more than to a less attractive one. Evolutionary psychologists argue that such detection is a survival strategy since attractiveness is correlated with physical health.
  • Academic Advantages: Teachers even react more positively to pretty kids in the classroom.
  • Lasting Perceptions: Throughout our lifetime, we endow attractive people with attributes of more intelligence and capability even when it is not warranted. WE tend to assume that strangers with baby faces—wide eyes, full lips, and soft brow—are more trustworthy. By contrast, those with heavy brows, small eyes and thin lips are seen as powerful and cunning. None of these physical attributes predict personality. As a result, we can make serious mistakes in judgment.

Attractiveness influences employers and unfortunately, most supervisors are making basic, uninformed guesses about people who are attractive. These theories about them are often unwarranted since pretty people are not smarter or harder working then the rest of us. But our universal bias can mislead us. As a result, attractive people are hired more often, promoted more often and earn up to 15% more than other workers who have more average looks.

New studies reveal that the beauty premium affects employee-employer relations in the following three ways:

  • More Confident: attractive people are more confident to begin with and they use their attractiveness to advance themselves politically. As a result, they garner higher wages.
  • More Capable: employers view attractive people as more intelligent and more capable.
  • Smooth Talkers: Pretty people are often verbally skilled due to their self-confidence and seek verbal interactions with others. Such interactions create an aura of success.

Education and hard work also count in the workplace.

While beauty is an advantage, good looks don’t tell the whole story. A just released study shows that intelligence and education still has a greater payoff than good looks. In this economy, especially, it is vital that we build important job skills and education before seeking out physical self-improvement strategies. In addition, nothing trumps perseverance. Hard work is more important than any other attribute including talent, beauty, family connections, and dumb luck.

Here are specific steps you can take to increase your chances of success at work in this tough economy:

  • Focus on Your Strengths: Few of us are supermodels and those who are have their own challenges! Focus on your unique strengths at work including self-discipline, moral values and loyalty. Do not dwell on past failures and setbacks but maintain a steadfast focus on where you want to go and what you have to do to get there.
  • Set Clear and Attainable Goals: Many of us just float through the workplace rather than having a defined agenda all our own. Make your goals realistic, clearly defined and reachable. Do not “overshoot” since such grandiosity can be self-sabotaging.
  • Go Slower to Go Further: Too often, we stay in high gear rather than taking measured, conservative steps. Extraordinary accomplishments at work take years to build and hard work, education and patience are keys to becoming truly successful. This new study is offering assurance that basic virtues such as perseverance count more than looking pretty!

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