It’s an unfortunate reality, but research provides evidence that employers (and many others) give preferential treatment to people they deem more physically attractive. Could the comparative objectivity of AI actually be a solution to Beauty Bias?
Lookism, The Beauty Bias and the Halo Effect
We’ve found time and time again that a candidate’s “qualifications” for a job do not represent all of the factors for why they are chosen or not. Employment discrimination remains a problem as perfectly qualified candidates might be passed over for gender, race, age and class (or simply because another candidate shares a similar background as the person hiring them).
But in an article for the Harvard Business Review, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic notes one another important bias surrounding selection of candidates, which is lookism. Lookism means that candidates are favored or rejected based on physical attractiveness. Of course, this doesn’t just mean someone’s face and hair but extends to other criteria including tattoos, obesity and attire.And it doesn’t just stop there.
Research supports the idea of a “Halo Effect” wherein people with positive qualities such as attractiveness are also assumed to be smarter, more confident, trustworthy and likeable, among other qualities. Here’s how that’s reflected in the studies cited by Chamorro-Premuzic:
To read how AI could account for these biases (with some caveats, of course), check out the full Analysis on MAEKAN.com.
- Higher grades: Due to the Halo Effect. Attractive students are deemed more conscientious and intelligent.
- More call-backs: attractive candidates got more than unattractive or no-photograph candidates.
- Higher salaries: 10-15% higher for above-average beauty in the States.
- Hiring and Firing: Less attractive employees less likely to be hired and more likely to be fired.