Sitting pretty

Should you be a chess player, it might be an advantage to be an attractive woman. Why? Because when men play chess with attractive women, they choose riskier strategies that don’t help their performance, according to a new paper, “Beauty Queens and Battling Knights“, by Swedish researchers. On the other hand, female chess players are unswayed by other chess players’ charms, and don’t appear to play any differently depending on the attractiveness of their opponent.

So another piece of research suggesting that if you’re female, it’s an advantage to be good-looking. Pretty people get all the luck. Or do they?

Various pieces of research have suggested that good-looking people do better at work. So it’s interesting to see the results of a study by researchers Bradley J Ruffle and Ze’ev Shtudiner, who sent 5312 CVs containing headshot photos to prospective employers. The unsurprising result was that having an attractive photo does make a difference.

But it only makes a positive difference for men: attractive men received more callbacks. By contrast, attractive women did not. What could be driving this? A possible clue is given by the difference between responses from employment agencies and actual employers. Employment agencies did not display the bias against attractive women. The authors suggest that female jealousy may play a role where women are on recruitment panels and decide they would rather not have an attractive female join the company.

A plausible explanation – but one that I really wish was not true. Any alternative explanations anyone?

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One Response to Sitting pretty

  1. Pingback: When economists take an interest in beauty | Five Minute Economist's Blog

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