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ugly or handsome ?
April 8, 2005 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Are you ugly or handsome? So Much for That Merit Raise: The Link between Wages and Appearance. Hey what about the phrase beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
posted by halekon (46 comments total)

 
In other news, there is also a link between Getting Laid and Appearance.
posted by spock at 10:06 AM on April 8, 2005


I dunno about the unmeasured productivity thing... it seems to me that people from more affluent families have the advantage of better education and, well, 'contacts' than people from less affluent families and thus are over-represented at the top levels of the corporate world.

The height and fitness observed could be secondary to higher-quality childhood nutrition and the 'beauty' thing could be a dual product that 'rich kids' are expected to be attractive and they have the means to cosmetically strive for that early in life and those skills continue on into adulthood.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2005


So put the cheesburger down, fatty, and hit the gym.
posted by keswick at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2005


So basically, I'm screwed.
posted by ImJustRick at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2005


I attribute all my success to the fact that I'm 6'5.
posted by mosch at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2005


I attribute all my lack of success to the fact that I'm not 6'5.
posted by veedubya at 10:19 AM on April 8, 2005


This explains my entire life. Thanks, I'll resign myself to failure and poverty now. This saves a lot of suspense.

Of course, Bill Gates would be the guy to turn this whole theory on it's head.
posted by jonmc at 10:22 AM on April 8, 2005


I know the height premium is true, but i think the beauty thing cuts both ways. Many women aren't taken seriously if they're too pretty, and many men as well--all the other, dumpier people around them treat them differently. An average kind-of bland goodlooking ideal for men--not too fat, nothing outstanding, no visible bumps/moles/etc--i call it midwestern-looking--seems to be the ideal.
posted by amberglow at 10:25 AM on April 8, 2005


I know the height premium is true,

It is? I'm 6'1". Somebody owes me some money, dammit.
posted by jonmc at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2005


lies, lies, and damn statistics.
posted by nads at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2005


I think it's funny that Malcolm Gladwell is mentioned in the first sentence of the story.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:56 AM on April 8, 2005


Here's Malcomn Gladwell's take on salary and height issue.

And I remember reading something else about the height/salary thing. The question is do people respect tall people more or are tall people more confident of their abilities?

One study noticed that people that were short in high school (ages 14-18) and then had an after high school growth spurt made about the same as those of average height. But people you were tall for their age in high school but levelled off before getting really tall ended up earning like taller people.

So that might point to confidence being a bigger factor than height.

In other words johnmc, the person that owes you money is yourself...
posted by sexymofo at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2005


Okay, come on. If all that was involved was being handsome, I'd be a billionaire.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2005


Aaron Swartz quotes Gladwell on this:
Similarly, nobody believes that it affects them. [Gladwell] once taught a course for a bunch of Princeton freshmen. He asked them to look around at each other and see if they noticed anything they had in common. They didn’t. “You’re all most attractive group of kids I’ve ever seen!” he exclaimed. “Don’t you think that has anything to do with why you’re here?” Oh no, of course not, they reply. (Gladwell doesn’t go into this, but this one could run pretty deep. It’s not just admissions officers picking cute kids, it’s professors and students and people who run clubs and things in high school too.)
I am amused that anyone could possibly be surprised by this. I thought it was understood. It's certainly understood damn well by us ugly people.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:02 AM on April 8, 2005


You could also attribute the CEO height thing to the fact that being tall throughout high school could potentially be a confidence boosting factor which would give you an advantage when it comes to assuming a leadership role later in life. I'm a lowly 5'6 and own one business (which I guess makes me CEO) and make a good six figures from my other line of work so it's not like us little guys can't kick some ass :)
posted by zeoslap at 11:02 AM on April 8, 2005


I suppose they are some interesting observations but they hardly vault to a position of scientific credibility. They could just as well have made observations about customer service quality or public speaking success for the specified groups. These are the grubby facts of life.
Perhaps more interesting a question would be whether the reporting of such phenomena has any bearing on traditional attitudes. Or just how these attitudes be changed.
posted by peacay at 11:09 AM on April 8, 2005


+ can
posted by peacay at 11:10 AM on April 8, 2005


there is also a link between Getting Laid and Appearance.

Serge Gainsbourg and Carlo Ponti, ugly men who nonetheless managed to marry two of the most beautiful women in the history of this galaxy, may disagree with you.
posted by matteo at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2005


Is there some baseline return on beauty? Sure, people like to be around good looking people.

However, I tend to think that a lot of the impact is overblown.

The height thing for men is case and point. I doubt whether there's any true causative effect; taller men do better because they participate more heavily in sports, and the modes of leadership/socialization which sports instills are so critical for attainment in male-dominated professions.

Gladwell's observations regarding Princeton are also fairly trivial. Lots of good looking people at Princeton says only that Princeton has a reputation for being a school for good-looking kids, which shapes their applicant pool.

Students at the University of Arizona are a lot better looking that students at the University of Chicago, and I suspect that U of C grads have a lifetime earnings expectation of 2x or 3x more than University of Arizona grads.
posted by MattD at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2005


says only that Princeton has a reputation for being a school for good-looking kids, which shapes their applicant pool.

The 'which shapes their applicant pool' is quite a conclusion jump, there. It's certainly more of a stretch to believe that only good looking people apply to Princeton because everyone knows it's a school for attractive people than it is to say that there might be some set of factors contributing to why these attractive people all seem to have found their way to a top university.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2005


..ugly men who nonetheless managed to marry two of the most beautiful women..
That's just an example in the card game of life where money trumps beauty, indicative of little but a byline in this discussion perhaps.
But as for height......I thought taller people were always at an advantage from the intimidating factor - it's much easier to be assertive when there's a clear physical difference between the parties. Hence: 'standover tactics' and no doubt there's more cliche lines.
posted by peacay at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2005


Why are we looking for social causes here? Why aren't we even willing to discuss the possibility that there is an innate, biological difference between short people and tall people that affects their ambitions and their abilities and makes them more suited to lead? After all, "If it was really the case that everybody was discriminating, there would be very substantial opportunities for a limited number of people who were not prepared to discriminate to assemble remarkable departments [or companies] of high quality people at relatively limited cost..." savvy companies could hire short, smart CEOs, outcompete the stupid companies who refuse to look at qualified short people, and all of this silliness about discrimination would be sorted out by the market. The fact that the discrepancy even exists is sure proof that it must be genetic, so why fight it?
posted by carmen at 11:40 AM on April 8, 2005


Gee, stop the presses.
posted by HTuttle at 11:58 AM on April 8, 2005


The fact that the discrepancy even exists is sure proof that it must be genetic
Well that's a fallacious argument of the highest order. The differences in height is obviously innate, genetically determined. But to ascribe economic or leadership success to that fact alone is a perversely narrow construction. It's what you do with what you were born with that's important and what you do with it is in part heavily determined by societal conditionings. If as a school child you are socially educated to rail against preconceived prejudices, then perhaps there's a chance that when as a company director you will hire on merit and not because of silly precepts. Or as a short person, you won't feel pre-defeated and will aspire to management posistions.
posted by peacay at 12:01 PM on April 8, 2005


Thank God I'm devestatingly gorgeous.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 PM on April 8, 2005


Students at the University of Arizona are a lot better looking that students at the University of Chicago, and I suspect that U of C grads have a lifetime earnings expectation of 2x or 3x more than University of Arizona grads.

As an almost U of C grad, I hope you're right. But I can say that I've noticed that students here are several orders of magnitude on the attractiveness scale below those at a certain Ivy League school I've had occasion to visit a lot, and I think the explanation for that is almost certainly that their attractiveness gave them confidence in high school.
posted by rustcellar at 12:30 PM on April 8, 2005


Hair, too. I think I once saw some study that purported to show that men with "good hair" were favoured for top jobs. Funny how I seem to have known a lot of short, fat, bald, ugly CEOs and directors in my time.

I'm 5'8" with some serious forehead and a face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle. It's so unfair. I coulda been a contender.
posted by Decani at 12:37 PM on April 8, 2005


I am spot on hot!

Ouch!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 12:48 PM on April 8, 2005


And obviously students at Harvard and MIT are even hotter than those at Princeton!

Seriosly, Princeton did seem to have factors that selected for big men on campus and popular girls way way back when I was looking at colleges: particularly, the eating clubs scared me off. So yeah, I think Princeton's special in this regard.
posted by furiousthought at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2005


go out to wall st. in the middle of the week. there are all these short little guys running around in bright blue or orange barber jackets: the gophers. then there are all these guys about a foot taller than everybody else strolling about in $5000 suits: the brokers.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:24 PM on April 8, 2005


In other words johnmc, the person that owes you money is yourself...

I should collect, man. But I'd just spend it all on hookers and blow.
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on April 8, 2005


So, you're saying that if I had nicer suit, a better shoe shine and a closer shave, I would be able to afford a bespoke tailored suit, an automatic shoe polisher and a Dovo straight razor with an ebony handle? Sweet!
posted by leapfrog at 2:03 PM on April 8, 2005


peacay, it was a joke. I just think it's a funny parallel with the whole gender discrimination argument. As in it's so clearly ridiculous with height, but people make these arguments seriously with gender.

Clearly fever + joking = not funny. Sorry.
posted by carmen at 2:34 PM on April 8, 2005


carmen: that was a truly good troll, don't be discouraged just because you succeeded :)
posted by Space Coyote at 2:39 PM on April 8, 2005




Oh dear. Fasten seatbelts....
posted by Decani at 3:12 PM on April 8, 2005


carmen...indeedly caught. No harm done. But just how tall are you?
posted by peacay at 3:45 PM on April 8, 2005


DirtyCreature--

So, you're saying that being at the top of a corporate pyramid is not a necessary condition for success. I'd agree with that. But what does that have to do with Jews, especially with their height, arm-span, and thoracic girth?

From the first linked article, a few lines after that quotation: Jewesses seem to be more keen-sighted and to have greater strength of grip than other women.

Jesus, they aren't Elves. The rhetoric of the article seems implicitly conversant with a sort of phrenology, not to mention its apparent affection for racial classification. Your point would have stood well without that bizarre thing.
posted by clockzero at 4:16 PM on April 8, 2005


Jesus, they aren't Elves.

Jesus knows that. he's one of them.
posted by jonmc at 4:29 PM on April 8, 2005


The rhetoric of the article seems implicitly conversant with a sort of phrenology, not to mention its apparent affection for racial classification

You either dispute the fact I mentioned above or you don't. The article isn't at all relevant (even if you did happen to have some respect for Joseph Jacobs, formerly President of the Jewish Historical Society of England; Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of History, Madrid; New York City)

Prefaced in the article to the quote were the words "Measurements of Jews have been taken sporadically in most European countries with the following results:". Debate the anthropological accuracy of this statement alone and don't get sidetracked by irrelevancies.
posted by DirtyCreature at 4:31 PM on April 8, 2005


Jonmc:

Jesus was a Jew, not a Jewess. Christ.

DirtyCreature:

First of all, I will decide what I want to discuss, not you.

Second, I wasn't attempting to engage in debate, because I agree with the point you made.

However, I thought the quotations were an odd choice and unnecessary, and that the first article is hopelessly obsolete and backward in its approach and contentions. I honestly don't care what else this Jacobs personage did in his life; the article is questionable.
posted by clockzero at 5:13 PM on April 8, 2005


Jesus, they aren't Elves.

Jesus knows that. he's one of them.
posted by jonmc



I read that as "Jesus, they aren't Elvis".

And my first thought was "Hava Nagila...uh huh uh..."
posted by dejah420 at 8:59 PM on April 8, 2005


Johns Hopkins University supposedly has one of the ugliest student bodies in America (I disagree).

Of course, JHU also has a reputation for being filled with bitter kids who only went there 'cause they didn't make the Ivies (which is unfortunately accurate).

So, um . . . yeah.
posted by schroedinger at 11:13 PM on April 8, 2005


Man, the third world is full of some seriously fugly motherfuckers.
posted by saysthis at 4:41 AM on April 9, 2005


Man, the third world is full of some seriously fugly motherfuckers.

Speak for yourself, mate.
posted by Goedel at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2005


A friend of mine is a PhD in social psychology, specialising in stereotypes. He has often told me about how attractiveness gives people a significant boost in many things, including career success. They have all sorts of studies on this, including controlling for other factors; it is old news, and well-established.
posted by jb at 4:44 PM on April 9, 2005


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