What are ugly women supposed to do

Nowadays it happens in no time that someone feels discriminated against. The overview of the injustices in the world can be lost. "Lookism" is such a zeitgeist diagnosis that needs explanation. Put simply, it is based on the assumption that it is easier for good-looking people in life and that unsightly contemporaries are severely disadvantaged. The main evidence is studies that show that the beautiful usually earn more than the ugly.

But it looks like this assumption hardly stands up to scrutiny. Satoshi Kanazawa from the London School of Economics and Mary Still from the University of Massachusetts show in a study that amazingly unattractive people often earn particularly well - and that there is no discrimination behind the effect (Journal of Business and Psychology).

The scientists evaluated data from around 20,000 Americans who had been followed for years for the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) and who regularly provided information between the ages of 16 and 29 years. Among other things, the participating researchers noted again and again how attractive the appearance of the respective test person was, and also asked about their gross income.

The most unsightly men and women, surprisingly, always deserved more than the less ugly or somewhat average participants in the study, and occasionally even more than those blessed with outward beauty.

Industry and gender are irrelevant

The effect was shown regardless of gender; it applied to both men and women. In addition, it did not matter in which industry the test subjects worked. So it is not the case that, for example, attractive and less attractive people choose different occupations on average and a repulsive appearance in any way induces them to choose occupations with particularly good earnings prospects or vice versa. Even within individual industries, the particularly unattractive people often pocketed more salaries than their more handsome colleagues.

The results seem to contradict previous studies that found a salary bonus for beautiful people. This is probably due to the fact that, in these studies, a less precise distinction was made between the various degrees of attractiveness and, as it were, only below average beautiful people were compared with normal people or above average beautiful people. The income advantage of the ugly, however, is especially true for those study participants who are at the extreme end of the spectrum.

What drives the effect, however, is not entirely clear. The social scientists point to personality traits that could well correlate with external manifestations. For example, many of the particularly unsightly study participants showed low values ​​for the character dimension "openness to new things". This can correlate with professional success, because people focus more easily on things when they are not open to anything new. But that's speculation.