Attractive People Are More Likely to be Trusted, Elected, and Listened To

Jakub Ferencik
Feb 25, 2018 · 7 min read

Are there any intrinsic biases that we have as a species that prevent us from making calculated and good decisions about hiring employees? Yes. They are. Mainly — looks.

I will be taking mainly from research that I stumbled upon mentioned in Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

It is an incredible book. I recommend it to everyone that will be reading this blog post. It could be one of my most important reads.


My suggestion for the reflective business type is this: if you want to sell a lot, you should probably hire a lot of people. But be ready for some backlash. Be ready for the “unattractive” to be the wealthy. Think: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Ryan Holiday, Timothy Ferris, Ed Sheeran.

This is what happens. You hire the attractive to sell your things, the rest will adjust and start figuring out how to outwork you. And that’s easy.

If you have to work to be appreciated more, you’re used to it. Attractive people have it easier, they don’t have to work as hard. They are at a significant disadvantage, then.

My Series That I’m Doing At the Moment

I wanted to get this blog post out of the way, because I had it on my mind. I am currently doing a series on my mini-vacation I did in California. It is me reflecting on friendship, weather, coffee, road-trips, LA, San Francisco, and other great stuff that I did there.

I am risking disrupting the beauty of having 7 blog posts all related to each other in a row, here. But I thought it was worth it, since I really wanted to get this one out of the way.

This method of ‘getting blogs out of your head the moment you think about them’ was what was suggested by bloggers such as Tom Kuegler, who really understands this platform very well.

If you had not had the chance, I recommend you checking out his material, potentially subscribing to his newsletter.

Here’s links to my piece on Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco! Stay tuned for more.

What Do I Mean By “Unattractive”?

Let me make this distinction really quick here: I mean “unattractive” in the sense that you are not going to instantaneously fall in love with the people mentioned above (Gates, Ferris, Holiday, Sheeran, etc.). I mean, you won’t be repulsed by them, either. In terms of looks, they are doing pretty well — they’re not Frankenstein or anything. But they’re not Shawn Mendes, or John Mayer, either.

“The intuitive nature of political judgements is even more striking in the work of Alex Todorov, of Princeton.

Todorov studies how we form impressions of people.

Wen he began his work, there was already a lot of research showing that we judge attractive people to be smarter and more virtuous, and we are more likely to give a pretty face the benefit of any doubt” (58).

How Well Do You Treat Your Attractive Friends?

Is this why, in class, people tend to listen to the more attractive people more often? Think of the people you know that are not very attractive and think about their general moods. Is it not the case that the friends you have that are more attractive and generally more happy and optimistic about the world?

Why is that?

You could say (without any reference to official research) that this correlation is because everyone seems to accept them and listen to them intently as if everything they said mattered.

My Category

I would not say that I am unattractive, I’m probably in between a 6 and a 7, to be honest. It seems that people are listening to me, although I have had many times when people would not be with me, because there was the option to hang with the more attractive people elsewhere.

To be frank, I really don’t care about that. It’s not as if I am in some way disturbed by such behavior, if anything, it seems natural and should be expected.

At Parties, Everyone Seems to be Listening to the Pretty Girl

“Juries are more likely to acquit attractive defendants, and when beautiful people are convicted, judges give them lighter sentences, on average. ” (58–9).

This makes me think of the times I have been at parties and how interested people were in the people that were very attractive. One such instance, that was more recent, makes me think of a particular individual that was nowhere close to clever, one could even say, that she was distinctly unprofound (if that is even a word), as in dumb.

Everyone was paying very close attention to what she was saying, no one could get her to shut up. It is hard to recall what she was saying exactly, since it was some time ago. I do remember that everything came across as entitled, general, and unrealistic.

This brings me to the most interesting research on the topic.

Politicians, Attractiveness, and Becoming President

“But Todorov found that there was more going on than just attractiveness. He collected photographs of the winners and runners-up in hundreds of elections for the U. S. Senate and the House of Representatives.


Look at that smile — how do you not vote for this guy?

He found that the candidate that people judged more competent was the one who actually won the race about two-thirds of the time. People’s snap judgements of the candidates’ physical attractiveness and overall likability were not as good predictors of victory, so these competence judgments were not just based on an overall feeling of positivity.

We can have multiple intuitions arising simultaneously, each one processing a different kind of information” (59).

What this suggest is that intuition comes first. Your first impression is everything. Reason goes out the window, for the most part.

Could that explain why someone charismatic, driven, and successful is president right now?



It should not surprise us however that people choose candidates due to these superficial qualities.

This research is fascinating to me. Think about that. There is indeed a correlation between attractiveness and hiring. I have personally been rejected because of my looks many times. If I was more attractive I would be hired, it’s as simple as that.

How do I know this?

“[W]hen Todorov forced people to make their competence judgements after flashing the pair of pictures on the screen for just a tenth of a second — not long enough to let their eyes fixate on each image — their snap judgements of competence predicted the real outcomes just as well. Whatever the brain is doing, it’s doing it instantly, just like when you look at the Muller-Lyer illusion.

The bottom line is that human minds, like animal minds, are constantly reacting intuitively to everything they perceive, and basing their responses on those reactions.

Within the first second of seeing, hearing, or meeting another person, [we] already begun to lean toward or away, and that lean influences what you think and do next.

Intuitions come first” (59).

The next follow up question will be, can we change our impulses? Or are we chained to our intuition?

We’ll see. Until then, let me know what you think in the comments! I love engaging with the readers of my blog posts.

I’d love to hear if you’ve had moments when you’ve realized that you were not being listened to simply because you weren’t as attractive as the next person.

Before you go…

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I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers cheers cheers and until next time,

keep reflecting.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 300,118+ people.

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Jakub Ferencik

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Exploring Ethical Living | Not Pretentious | From Slovakia to Portsmouth to Oxford to Canada | Book Reviews on IG: jakubreads | Guitar vids on IG: jakublearns

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