Desirable people's allure 'limited to desirable jobs'

Hiring managers are more likely to choose “unattractive” candidates for “uninteresting” work -- at the expense of the good-looking.

Published this week, the finding is surprising because it has long been suggested that the decision-maker would always select the attractive candidate, no matter the job.

But experiments on 750 participants for the London Business School show that desirable people only curry favour for desirable jobs, such as a “project director” or “IT internship.”

When it comes to the less desirable roles, such as low-paid work in a warehouse, “attractive people may be discriminated against,” found LBS doctoral candidate Margaret Lee.

“Participants perceived attractive individuals to feel more entitled to good outcomes than unattractive individuals," she explained. "Attractive individuals were predicted to be less satisfied with an undesirable job than an unattractive person.”

Interestingly, all the participants in three separate experiments de-selected the better-looking for the less-sought after jobs, not just the managers who hire people for a living.

So whoever played the role of decision-maker, they ‘took into consideration others’ assumed aspirations’ before deciding who was the best fit, said research co-author Madan Pillutla.

It is therefore no longer the case that the best-looking applicant is a shoo-in for the opportunity -- regardless of its type or pay, which until now was a “taken-for-granted” view.

Organisations and policymakers may need to implement different measures from those assumed by past work if they are to curb discrimination in the hiring process, Pillutla added.

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