Oh, the struggles of being a good-looking dude.
While attractive men may have a leg up when it comes to getting dates, new research finds that they're at a distinct disadvantage in many career fields. These guys may unwittingly intimidate their future bosses and thereby miss out on job opportunities, according to a small study published in the May edition of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
In a series of four experiments, researchers showed participants, who worked in various fields, photos of potential job candidates. Researchers then asked the participants to identify which of the candidates, who were of differing levels of attractiveness, they would "hire." The somewhat unattractive "applicants" were the most likely to be chosen for the jobs -- particularly in competitive environments like a car dealership, where employees are evaluated and rewarded based on individual success.
In more teamwork-oriented, less competitive workplaces, however, it was just the opposite: Hiring managers were more likely to discriminate in favor of more attractive men.
"When workplaces are very cooperative, people discriminate in favor of attractive men -- which is in line with the long-standing view that attractiveness is an asset in the workplace," the study's lead author, University of Maryland psychologist Marko Pitesa, told The Huffington Post. "But, as soon as you allow for more or less subtle elements of competition among coworkers, attractive men are at a quite substantial disadvantage."
Attractive men tend to be perceived as being more competent, and therefore are prone to being seen as a threat, according to the study's authors.
This tendency to be threatened by the perceived competence of others is rooted in our competitive nature, Pitesa said.
"A long line of research in social psychology shows that people engage in social comparisons almost automatically, and want to be slightly better than others around them even when that affords no tangible benefit," he said.
How Do Women Fare?
The experiments showed no correlation between female attractiveness and perceived competence, but previous research has suggested that attractive women may be perceived as less competent in the workplace. For this reason, women may be discriminated against when applying for jobs, particularly when they are managerial roles.
Research has shown that attractive women are at a disadvantage when applying for jobs that are traditionally considered "masculine," such as finance director, construction worker and mechanical engineer.