People who have had cosmetic surgery, especially women, often report that looking younger and more attractive increased their happiness and self-confidence. For instance, Roni Graham, a patient of Seattle facial plastic surgeon Dr. David Santos reported, “I feel great! I think I look now the way I feel. I’m not trying to cover up my jaw with my hair. I feel awesome.” Another of Dr. Santos’ recent patients had a facelift years ago before moving to Washington State. She related, “I felt that I looked good, so I felt good. I projected the kind of confidence of leadership that attracted people to want me to be involved in their organizations.” She ended up running for public office and winning.
Can attractiveness boost income?
That experience backs up scientific studies showing that an attractive, younger appearance is essential for success in politics. Could improving your looks also improve your income? Scientific studies highlighted in national news magazines like Newsweek and Forbes show that it could. Newsweek (7/29/11) reported, “Handsome men earn, on average, 5 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts (good-looking women earn 4 percent more).” A 1994 study by economists put that advantage as high as 12 to14 percent.
This should come as no surprise. A 2004 Dateline NBC hidden camera investigation revealed what many have observed for years: The more attractive a person is, the more likely they are to receive special treatment. Reporter Keith Morrison interviewed Dr. Gordon Patzer, Dean of the College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University. He summed up 30 years of research results on the social impact of appearance:
People are valued more who are higher in physical attractiveness.
Newsweek surveyed 202 junior and senior corporate hiring managers and discovered:
Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers told Newsweek that qualified but unattractive candidates are likely to have a harder time landing a job, while more than half advised spending as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a résumé…Asked to rank employment attributes in order of importance, meanwhile, managers placed looks above education.
Higher sales commissions
The benefits of an attractive face are particularly seen in the sales profession. Sales managers often seek to hire good-looking salespeople. Research by Arizona State University Marketing Professor Peter Reingen and Professor Jerome Kernan of George Mason University found that:
“Buyers judged physically attractive salespeople to be more adept at selling. Buyers were more cordial to good-looking salespeople, bought more from the lookers than the average Joes, and donated more to attractive charity solicitors than to those less physically favored.”
A study by Arizona State University Professor Cheryl Jarvis asked doctors to rate pharmaceutical salespeople’s looks. Jarvis found that for every point of increase in a salesperson’s attractiveness rating there was a corresponding rise in prescriptions those doctors wrote for the medications they promoted. Physicians strive to be objective, thinking only of their patients’ well-being. But even they could not avoid being swayed by pharmaceutical salespeople’s looks. Note this example based on the research findings:
Why does attractiveness make such a difference?
The human brain appears to be hard-wired to favor good-looking faces. Thus, world renowned social psychologist and influence expert Robert Cialdini, PhD stated:
Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence…Furthermore, we make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.
We tend to automatically like and trust attractive people more. And, as Cialdini sums up the research, “Even when all things are not equal people prefer to do business with those they like.” Thus, while most people find that looking their best increases their happiness and confidence, there is often an unexpected bonus.
Looking good can increase the pleasure others feel in your company, making you more likeable and influential. As the studies show, that often results in a higher paycheck. Could it help you avoid a layoff? Looking your best, then, is an investment that can pay both emotional and financial dividends. Whether or not the pay increase offsets the cost of a facelift or necklift, the increase in self-esteem and happiness that many report clearly makes looking younger a valuable asset.
David Q Santos MD