A study by University College London’s Assistant Professor Lee and her co-authors arrive at the aforementioned hypothesis and more
According to research done by UCL School of Management in the United Kingdom, handsome men may be rejected for competitive jobs, but are preferred for roles that require cooperation. Similarly, in workplaces rewarding team performance, a decision-maker prefers attractive male employees as they help further their own success.
The findings are based on a study helmed by Assistant Professor Sun Young Lee (pictured), which also reflects that fetching men are seen as more competent. In certain fields, they are typically hired over less strapping ones, especially in areas like research and development.
However, the report indicates that in competitive business environments such as sales departments, good looks signalling competence can make handsome men seem threatening to future colleagues. If decision-makers expect to compete, they would rather discriminate against them.
With her co-authors from the University of Maryland, London Business School, and INSEAD, Dr. Lee did not find the same effect for pretty women as female attractiveness wasn’t associated with competence. She believes it’s because physical stereotypes interact with gender stereotypes.
“Managers are affected by stereotypes, making hiring decisions to serve their own self-interests, so organisations may not get the most competent candidates. With more companies involving employees in recruitment processes, this point needs attention,” said Dr. Lee.
“Awareness that hiring is affected by potential relationships and stereotyping tendencies can improve selection processes. For example, engaging external representatives may improve selection outcomes as outsiders are likely to provide fairer inputs. Also, if organizations make managers more accountable for their decisions, they’ll be less motivated to pursue self-interests at the expense of the company.”