Research has taught us that being taller can lead to better job prospects. It has shown us that baldness can confer greater leadership potential. And yes, it has even told us that wearing makeup can boost perceptions of a woman’s competence.
Now, business school researchers report that what you’ve always sensed is true: the workplace isn’t much more hospitable to unattractive people than high school. In a study published in the journal Human Performance, professors from Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame found that people who are considered unattractive are more likely to be hassled or tormented by their colleagues than those peers who are considered better-looking. The study claims to be the first to link attractiveness with cruelty in the workplace.
The researchers queried 114 workers at a U.S. health care facility, asking them how often they were the recipient of what they politely refer to as “counterproductive work behavior,” or rudeness, disparaging comments, or ridicule. These surveys were compared with how each study participant judged his or her attractiveness on a scale of one to five by people who didn’t know them.