Attractiveness and Corporate Success. Different Causal Attributions for Males and Females

Madeline E. Heilman, Melanie H. Stopeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether appearance influences how an individual's corporate success is explained, 113 working men and women were presented with the work history of an assistant vice president (AVP) of a midsized corporation who was an either attractive or unattractive male or female. Additionally, the AVP's rise to the senior ranks was depicted as either unusually rapid or normative in pace. Results indicated that, as predicted, attractiveness had different effects on the degree to which the AVP's success was attributed to ability depending upon whether the AVP was male or female; males' ability attributions were enhanced by their good looks and females' ability attributions were detrimentally affected by them. Also as expected, capability judgments followed a similar pattern. Appearance was additionally shown to have different consequences for males and females when likeability and interpersonal integrity were rated. However, contrary to predictions, the rapidity of corporate ascent did not interact with appearance or sex in affecting attributions about or impressions of the stimulus AVPs. The implications of these results, both conceptual and practical, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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