Beauty, statistically, allows us to have higher salaries. However it is not always so. Discrimination for beauty is a fact, as it is for sex, ethnicity, height, etc.

Although the non-attractive people receive lower salary than the attractive ones, the group of the least attractive still receives a higher salary than the attractive ones. At least it is what the following study suggests.

Salary of the ugly

This is suggested by a study by Satoshi Kanazawa and Mary Still that has been published in the Journal of Business Psychology. This is a longitudinal study of 20,000 young Americans, interviewed at age 16 and then at other times up to 29 years.

The interviewer rated the physical attractiveness of the person, from very unattractive to very attractive.

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Kanazawa and Still wanted to check whether the participants’ gross income at age 29 was associated with their physical attractiveness at that or any other age. In general, there was a positive association between attractiveness and profits. But there was an anomaly: very unattractive participants defied the trend.

Those participants who were rated as very unattractive at age 29 earned significantly more than those considered more attractive than themselves, even more (though to a lesser extent) than the very attractive ones.

The correlation between the lack of extreme attraction and the highest salary was maintained using the average income and examining men and women separately. The authors argue that this is hard to square with the usual discrimination explanation of why attractiveness (or lack of it) is associated with income. After all, why would employers be less discriminating against people with worse looks?

Kanazawa reasons that attractive people earn more because facial appeal is an indicator of better health, which in turn correlates with more intelligence, advantageous personality traits and greater strength. Therefore, it is not known for sure why those classified as very unattractive obtain higher incomes than their more attractive counterparts, and more research is required.

What Kanazawa supposes, in any case, is that the combination of passion for a subject and perseverance in the face of difficulties seems to be a factor as or more important than beauty to achieve success. Unattractive people score high in the psychological opening to experience, one of the features according to the Five Factor Model.

People who are defined by this trait, that of openness to experience, prefer family routines to new experiences, and generally have a narrower range of interests. These very unattractive people, then, could obsessively pursue their work objectives, excluding all distractions and finally entering the vanguard of their field.

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