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Do Looks Matter?

One of my favorite activities is to watch movies when I should be doing homework. Because of this tendency, I consider myself pretty up-to-date on movies--I specialize in stupid comedy, which is, without a doubt, my favorite genre. So, I can say, with all the authority of someone who recently watched Dodgeball for the twentieth time instead of writing a history essay, that most comedies released in recent years tend towards lighter, less enduring material; I don’t plan on taking life advice from movies like Sharknado or anything Adam Sandler has been in, for example.

Some films, however, ask the important, hard-hitting questions. One such poignant question, to which science has recently determined an answer, is “Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” from the movie Zoolander.

The answer to this question, it appears, is that there is not.

In fact, recent studies have suggested a direct link between physical attractiveness and success. Daniel Hamermesh, who teaches economics at the University of Texas, notes that attractive people earn three to four percent more money than their less attractive peers. Compounding this, a joint study published by researchers from Houston and Rice Universities found that less attractive people consistently rated lower in job interviews.

What is particularly interesting about these results is that John Karl Scholz, a professor of economics from the University of Wisconsin, noted that there did not appear to be any correlation between attractiveness and educational attainment. This finding is significant because it implies that, even if two job applicants have attained equal levels of education, the more attractive candidate is more likely to not only get a job, but also to make more money doing that job.

So what lessons can we, as current and future job applicants, take from these studies?

First off, it’s good to be attractive. Beyond that, however, these studies highlight just how important it is to be confident in your appearance and skills. According to all of the studies mentioned above, the positive correlation between attractiveness and employment and earnings is mirrored by, and possibly due to, the fact that more attractive people have higher self-confidence on average. This self-confidence manifests itself in better job interviews and superior on-job performance, which likely helps to explain the higher earnings enjoyed by attractive people.

As it turns out, the key to being successful may not be to look like a celebrity (though, according to a Facebook link, I am almost a 100% match in looks with Mr. Bean, which may not be a good sign for my attractiveness), but simply to be self-confident. 

So, whether you look like Derek Zoolander or, in my case, a celebrity ranked among the strangest looking actors, according to IMDb, it shouldn’t matter: during your next job interview, remember that self-confidence is the real key.

That, or being in CSOM--but aren’t they really the same thing?

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