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Why some handsome men have trouble finding work
Being an attractive guy might not be enough to get you through a job interview successfully. - photo by Tyler Stahle
If youre a handsome guy, youve probably got it made, right? After all, research shows attractive people are more likely to be healthy, intelligent and better candidates for marriage. Other studies show that beautiful people are recognized as more likeable and trustworthy than people who are not.

But being an attractive guy might not be enough to get you through a job interview, according to new research published in the journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

The research found that attractive men are generally perceived to be highly skilled, and therefore, can be viewed as competition to hiring managers.

Conversely, attractive women are perceived to be less competent, which is consistent with the dumb-blonde stigma.

One thing we found was that attractive males are always seen as more competent than unattractive males, said Marko Pitesa, who co-authored the study. Both among men and women, there was a perception that more attractive men were more competent.

In an interview with Shankar Vedantam of NPR, Pitesa acknowledged that while it seems reasonable that a manager would want competent people in the workplace, there is also a fear of being outperformed by a colleague. Such fear can cause hiring managers to offer jobs only to applicants they perceive to be less competent than themselves.

The study was based on four similar exercises where participants were told to hire or pick between pictures of attractive and unattractive job applicants (which had been proven by previous research). Interestingly, results found that attractive men were more likely to be chosen for jobs in which theyd work in a team environment. Unattractive men, however, were preferred for jobs in a workplace that fostered individual competition.

If youre a car salesman, for example, the next car salesman to you is actually your competitor, continued Pitesa. If he sells more cars than you, your bonus is going to go down.

Sounds like discrimination against attractive men, right? Well, it is. But its a form of discrimination or sexism that many people are probably applying subconsciously.

I dont think people are actually aware that they are making this association between good looks and competence, said Vedantam. This bias is essentially operating below the level of conscious awareness.

Pitesa acknowledged that though this might be a subconscious bias, its one that can have harmful effects.

I was taken by the fact that people were unaware of (their bias), he said. People make these important job decisions and inferences about how competent people are just based on their physical attractiveness without the slightest clue that theyre doing that.
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