Physical Attractiveness Bias in Hiring

Everyone knows a strong jaw or great hair can give you a distinct advantage in the dating market, but what about the job market? Did you know physical attractiveness even affects hiring decisions? 

Physical attractiveness bias doesn’t get as much attention as issues like racial, religious, or gender bias. But it can still harm recruitment efforts if it goes unchecked.         

This article breaks down what attractiveness bias is, how it affects recruitment and hiring efforts, and how modern hiring solutions offer a bias-free path forward for companies looking to get the most out of the hiring process.                                                                     

The Attractiveness Bias Theory Explained

The attractiveness bias theory hinges on the observation that individuals who are considered conventionally attractive are typically perceived more positively than their less attractive peers. 

This positive perception extends to every facet of an individual’s character and competencies. Attractiveness bias leads people to assume attractive individuals are more intelligent, trustworthy, moral, and sociable

And these prevalent assumptions aren’t limited to personal settings. The attractiveness bias theory also states that attractive individuals are more likely to land interviews, get hired, receive rapid promotions, and earn a higher wage compared to less attractive professionals. 

Hiring Based on Looks: The Legalities

There aren’t laws that explicitly prohibit hiring decisions based on attractiveness, but attempting to do so can be a slippery slope into discrimination against protected classes. 

Attractiveness bias favors conventionally attractive individuals within the context of what defines ‘attractive’ in the dominant culture. For example, some American companies are more likely to provide preferential treatment for applicants that meet ‘western’ or Eurocentric beauty standards during the hiring process.

The legal danger of attractiveness bias during the hiring process comes into play when beauty standards clash with protected cultural, religious, or racial garb and personal grooming standards. 

For example, a Sikh or Jewish man may unjustifiably find himself at the bottom of the candidate pile because a religious garment, hairstyle, or beard doesn’t conform to conventional standards. Similarly, dinging a Muslim or Pentecostal candidate for wearing religious garb can also land you in hot water with the EEOC. 

Impact of Beauty Bias in Hiring

Multiple studies have uncovered evidence of attractiveness leading to preferential employment decisions and higher odds of success in the workplace

Studies observing the effects of attractiveness bias during mock and real-world interviews found that attractive candidates are more likely to get a position than less attractive peers, despite near-identical qualifications and skillsets. 

Not only are more attractive candidates more likely to get hired, but they’re also more likely to command higher wages. 

Attractive applicants earn 10-15% higher salaries than their equally skilled colleagues, totaling an estimated $230,000 additional dollars by the end of their career. That’s a steep price to pay for an unchecked hiring bias

Attractiveness bias is so pervasive in recruitment and hiring that Fortune 500 executives’ attractiveness ratings can predict their organization's profitability, and the attractiveness of political candidates can predict election results. 

One study had subjects select a ‘captain’ for an imaginary voyage using photos of real politicians. The choices skewed heavily towards the more attractive of two candidates and reflected the results of the politicians' competition for office with a remarkable 60-64% accuracy

The Psychology Behind Hiring Attractive Candidates

The exact psychological cause of attractiveness bias is still debatable.

A study examining the relationship between evolution, appearance, and occupational success concludes that beauty bias positively affects occupational outcomes. This phenomenon has roots in perceived competencies for professional roles due to physical attractiveness. 

Another study reports another function of the psychology driving attractiveness bias. People often subconsciously assign positive traits to attractive people, including intelligence, trustworthiness, and productivity.

The research also suggests that physically attractive candidates receive more job offers due to the subconscious acknowledgment of their evolutionary biological status as preferred mates.

How can Predictive Analytics Minimize Physical Attractiveness Bias in Hiring?

Hiring tools that harness the power of predictive analytics eliminate physical attractiveness bias using a multi-layered and quantifiable process.

For example, PerceptionPredict’s Performance Fingerprints use complex algorithms and next-gen predictive analysis software to build data-centered candidate profiles. The platform anonymizes candidates, so companies can make performance-driven hiring decisions without the distraction of a charming smile. 

Performance Fingerprints' qualitative nature also makes them ideal for deciding between two candidates who are neck-and-neck for a role. 

Hiring professionals can become especially vulnerable to biased decision-making when deciding between two exceptional candidates, leading to a sub-par outcome compared to Performance Fingerprint’s in-depth trait analysis. 

This unique advanced analytics process identifies key indicators for high performance that are difficult or impossible to detect during traditional resume reviews or face-to-face interviews. This enables organizations to make the optimal employment decision even when candidates appear identical on paper.

Minimize Beauty Bias in Hiring with Predictive Analysis

Confronting and minimizing hiring biases can propel organizations to new heights of profitability and employee performance. 

PerceptionPredict specializes in transforming organizations’ recruitment and hiring. Our predictive analysis creates objective candidate evaluations that emphasize every candidate’s performance, productivity, tenure, and ROI forecasts. 

And our hiring tools don’t just maximize performance. We’ve meticulously designed our solution to eliminate the impact of all the human biases that have harmed recruitment and hiring success for decades. 

Book a demo with a predictive analytics expert to start overcoming beauty bias and more in your hiring process.

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