Above is Dr Sun Young Lee, a research psychologist from the USA who researches, amongst other matters, what kinds of things influence people in making hiring decisions.  She recently released a paper (Lee, 2015) dealing with the issue of attractiveness of candidates and how it affects the probability that they will be hired.  She found some very interesting things about men, handsomeness and employment decisions:

  1. Managers who were in charge of collaborative work places – say where team bonuses are paid – tended to favour handsome men.
  2. Managers who were in charge of competitive work places – say sales teams where everyone competes for bonuses – tended to favour less handsome men. The reason is that men who are handsome are considered to be more competent, so the hirer tends to hold off – fearing the extra competition.  This also explains why they are favoured in team based environments.

Interestingly, she did not find an effect of this sort for attractiveness in women.  The reason appears to be that there does not seem to be the same conceptual link between female attractiveness and competence that exists for men.

Dr Lee suggested using external advisors to help in the decision process because they will not be prey to the same biases as internal staff – they have nothing to fear from the potential competition.  Of course, psychological assessments do not care how handsome you are, either.

So, if you are a very handsome man who is in sales and you have been struggling to win your dream job, maybe this is the reason.


Andrew Marty
Managing Director

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Lee, S., Pitesa, M., Pillutla, M., & Thau, S. (2015). When beauty helps and when it hurts: An organizational context model of attractiveness discrimination in selection decisions.Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 128, 15-28.

Andrew Marty