Being attractive, advantage or disadvantage? Performance-based evaluations and recommended personnel actions as a function of appearance, sex, and job type

Madeline E. Heilman, Melanie H. Stopeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prompted by a concern with the effects of appearance on how individuals and their work are regarded and how rewards are allocated in work settings, an experiment was conducted to determine whether physical attractiveness differentially affects the performance evaluations and recommended personnel actions for men and women holding managerial and nonmanagerial jobs. As predicted, attractiveness proved to be advantageous for women in nonmanagerial positions and disadvantageous for women in managerial ones. Unexpectedly, however, appearance had no effects whatsoever on reactions to men. Additional results indicated that attractiveness enhanced the perceived femininity of our female stimulus people, but did not enhance the perceived masculinity of those who were male. These data were interpreted as supportive of the idea that the differential effects of appearance in work settings are mediated by gender characterizations, and that fluctuations in the perceived person-job fit are key to understanding the seemingly inconsistent reactions to attractive and unattractive women in employment situations. The theoretical and applied implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-215
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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