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In the Workplace

Lookism contributes to different outcomes in general success in the workplace. An increasing amount of studies indicate that lookism has an important effect on hiring and success[1][2][3]. The effects of lookism are different in interviewing, short-term success and long-term job success. More attractive women, in a statically attractive way and a dynamically attractive way, have a better likelihood of obtaining higher status within a group.

The United States can be considered an appearance-based society in which many decision are made with consideration of the physical attractiveness of the individual. Lookism is prevalent in hiring.

The impact of lookism is different for men and women. In most cases, it plays a larger role in female success. Females in particular professions are hired based on appearances and women have a higher likelihood of being hired if they are more attractive.

In-person interviews are positively effected by lookism if the individual is attractive. Resumes of attractive individuals tend to be preferred over less-attractive individuals [4]. This trend results in lower hiring rates for less attractive individuals.

Lookism can have a greater impact on some professions; yet can be virtually unimportant in others. The effects of this trend are more significant if the applicant is in not significantly above or under the normal hiring qualifications. The degree to which it affects hiring and interviews is determined by the gender and sexual preference of the interviewer.

In same-sex groups, physical attractiveness is influential in homogenous male groups, but not in homogeneous female groups. While attractiveness can have an effect on status in co-ed workplaces, if the group is more female-dominated, attractiveness tends to have a low impact on status.

The higher the rate of social-interactions, the higher the importance of appearances. Professions that require a lot of group work and collaboration tend to have a higher preference for more attractive employees [3].

Appearances are most important in the professions of human resources, sales, and public relations. These are jobs that require interaction, and therefore have a high tendency of lookism in the workplace.

While appearances can affect perceptions temporarily, personality will begin to influence the status of the individual within the group. While appearances were important in initial relationships, trends showed that the importance of appearances decreased as relations were established [1] [2] [3].“Stereotyped perceptions of strangers may wane quickly if group members actually have a chance to get to know each other” [3]. The overall lasting effects of this are limited. The positive correlation between personality and appearances will have a proportional effect on the success and perceived influence on the workplace.


  • Johnson, Stefanie, Kenneth Podratz, and Robert Dipboyle. "Physical Attractiveness Biases in Ratings of Employment Suitability: Tracking Down the “Beauty Is Beastly” Effect." The Journal of Social Psychology 150.3 (2012): 301-18.
  • Anderson, John, O. P., Keltner, D., & Kring, A. M. (2001). Who attains social status? Effects of personality and physical attractiveness in social groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1), 116-132. DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.81.1.116
  • Cavico, F. J., Muffler, S. C., & Mujtaba, B. G. (2012). Appearance discrimination, "lookism" and "lookphobia" in the workplace. The Journal of Applied Business Research, 28(5), 791-802.
  • Jawahar, I. M., & Mattsson, J. (2005). Sexism and Beautyism Effects in Selection as a Function of Self-Monitoring Level of Decision Maker. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 90(3), 563-573. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.90.3.563