Mendoza School of Business

Workplace bullying: Unattractive people just can’t win

Published: June 20, 2013 / Author: Linda Foley

The following is an excerpt from an article that mentions the study, “Beauty, Personality, and Affect as Antecedents of Counterproductive Work Behavior Receipt”, co-authored by Management Professor Tim Judge. The study is the first to find a direct correlation between attractiveness and bullying in the workplace. To read the entire article visit: Workplace bullying: Unattractive people just can’t win

A study from Michigan State University released on June 20 examined how superficial prejudices lead to bullying in the workplace, just as they do in school.

The researchers found that being ‘ugly’ played more of a role in how someone is treated than their age, gender or how long they had worked there. Additionally unattractive workers were treated more harshly than their attractive colleagues. This included being given menial tasks or jobs other people didn’t want to do and being overlooked for promotion.

The researchers asked 114 employees how often their colleagues and superiors engaged in ‘cruel behaviour’ towards them. This included bullying and any cruel behavior from co-workers such as being made fun of, having hurtful things said about them or being treated in a rude manner. Spouses and people close to the workers were given questionnaires to gauge how agreeable or friendly they were, thus gauging “personality.”


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