We All Know Looks Matter: But Apparently Less For Men

Shutterstock via Vox Media

Girls at School

Shutterstock via Vox Media

April 21, 2024 at 2:45AM UTC
We recently read a Vox Media report that surprised us. The headline "The Economics of Prettiness: More Attractive Women Get Better Grades" wasn't the part that was new. After all, we figured most people understand that physical beauty is something that helps those who possess it. The advantage begins early and probably lasts a lifetime, throughout one's educational and professional career.

However, we were surprised by what was buried in the piece itself about the underlying research. It turns out that men are not rewarded — nor penalized — for being physically attractive. 

The study looked at attractive women (as voted by peer students who didn't know them a la "Are You Hot or Not?") taking in-person courses and compared their academic performance in those classes to their performance in online classes where their teachers and graders had no idea what they looked like.

Can you guess where they got better grades?  Apparently even after controlling for the difficulty of their exams via test score adjustments, the attractive women did worse than expected in their online courses.

This may be nothing new, but apparently this difference in performance did not apply to men who are rated attractive by their peers. Perhaps that is simply because most of the professors and graders in the study were heterosexual men? We assume so, but the research doesn't say...


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