The Good & The Bad: Understanding Why Attractive People Are Successful

By Nicola Kirkpatrick|Updated June 14, 2022

When talking about success, motivational speakers mention hard work, ambition, and passion.

A group sits in a meeting listening to one presenting coworker.

 The person talking might be in decent shape, have a full head of hair, is well dressed, and perhaps has perfectly straight, white teeth and nice skin. They likely exude confidence and probably attract almost everyone that they encounter. The speaker probably doesn't mention that sometimes attractive people are more successful.

"The Pleasure Of Dealing With Attractive People"

According to a Business Insider Article from 2012, those who are good looking get hired sooner, get promoted quicker, and make more money than their below-average looking coworkers.

Professor Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago developed a principle called "The pleasure of dealing with good-looking people." This principle says that people who are good looking are more successful because of their sex appeal. A good-looking, charming car salesman will have a better chance of selling a woman a car than his coworker who has an annoying personality. According to this theory, the woman believes that buying the car from the good-looking salesperson will increase her chance of having sex with him. The same can be said of men who go to a gym looking for a personal trainer. They are more likely to hire a woman trainer who is beautiful.

Researchers are quick to point out, however, that it is not just the physical sex appeal that makes good-looking people more successful. Attractive people are more successful because they often possess personality traits that are desirable to employers, such as being confident, healthy, detailed, and deliberate.

In a study completed by the University of Houston and researchers from Rice University, the control group was attractive individuals. The experimental group was comprised of people who had facial disfigurements, scars, or birthmarks on their faces. Each group was interviewed for a job opening. Interviewers rated people with facial disfigurements lower than those who did not.

Less information was remembered about candidates who interviewers didn’t consider good-looking, which left negative impacts on their overall scores. The interviewers spent more time stigmatizing a candidate's facial features than listen to the information being told to them.

Good-Looking Individuals: What Are The Benefits?

First impressions occur within the first few seconds of meeting someone, and that impression is most often based on a person's physical appearance. Substantial evidence indicates that people who are good-looking have an easier time in society. Society perceives beautiful people as happier, more successful, wealthier, healthier, and more intelligent.

People tend to attribute positive qualities to attractive people, which in turn can cause more average-looking people to treat attractive people better. In many cases, the more beautiful someone is, the higher the pedestal they are placed. In school, the traditionally pretty kids are usually the most popular; they are also called on more in class and often receive more lenient consequences for bad behavior than their peers.

Success In Dating and Attraction

Someone's level of physical attraction determines whether they are liked, trusted, or deemed a worthy mate. But isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? While people may vary in their looks and what attracts personally, some features were deemed by The British National Child Development Study as more favorable than others. 

Being Attractive At Work - How Does It Help?

In the United States, less than 15% of men are over 6-feet tall, but 58% of Fortune 500 companies are led by CEOs who are over 6 foot tall. Studies by the University of Florida showed that tall men earn more money than their shorter co-workers. After more than 30 years of study these researchers concluded that humans are hardwired to favor more attractive people.

Attractive individuals also tend to be more talented, kinder, more trustworthy, and more intelligent than others. This could be because good-looking people receive more help and more chances than their peers.

Humans want to be liked and accepted by those they believe are better than they are, so when a beautiful person needs help, they are more likely to get it. The Rice University study also showed that subordinates favored attractive bosses and viewed them as more competent and better managers than bosses who were not.

What Attracts Us To Certain Individuals More Than Others?

Beauty and attraction aren't so much about blonde or brunette, blue eyes, or green eyes. The University of Wisconsin found that CEOs who had a face that was more wide than tall earned more money than other CEOs. Female faces with a vertical distance between their eyes and mouth that measured exactly 36% of the total length were voted most attractive. The horizontal distance between the eyes on these faces was almost half of the width.
An even more surprising fact about this study found was that attractive people earned more money than those who were seen as less good-looking, and the gap only widens over time. The suggests that the raises a beautiful person receives are larger and happen more often. Attractive people are also more likely to be granted a raise or be able to negotiate their salaries when they ask. People who were considered the less good-looking were also found to make as much 15% less than attractive people in the same position per year.
 
How Can You Be More Attractive?
 
A woman discusses attraction with her therapist through online virtual communication. She wears a button down grey shirt.
 

Most people are not born with perfectly symmetrical faces, naturally good physique, or a charming personality. Not everyone gets the attractive genes each parent has to offer. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to make yourself feel more confident in your own skin and convey to others that you are confident in who you are.

  • Smile more often. Research shows that smiling makes you automatically more appealing to a partner.
  • Wear bright colors. Red is considered a power color for a reason. People who wear bright colors are perceived as more confident, they get more attention, and they appear happier and more upbeat.
  • Be honest. No one likes someone who lies or cheats. If someone has mistrust in you, you will become less attractive to them.
  • Speak clearly and concisely. Intelligence is linked with attractiveness. Raise your attraction level by speaking in a way that shows your intelligence and value.
  • Have a sense of humor. The number one quality a woman mentions about her partner is that they make her laugh. Laughter has been scientifically proven to attract women. Having a sense of humor is also high on a man's list of what they find attractive in a partner.
  • Get a dog. Women are three times more likely to stop and talk to a man with a dog. An unattractive man has a higher probability of getting a woman's number if he has a dog with him than if he was alone. Having a pet can show heart, kindness, and responsibility. Fifty percent of women judge a date based on how they treat their pets.
  • Be kind and show empathy. Good-looking people tend to exhibit more positive traits, such as being kind or empathetic. An ugly personality can make an attractive person ugly very quickly, while someone who has a kind personality and isn't as attractive physically can hold the advantage.
  • Practicing good hygiene is a very easy way to make yourself more noticable. Make sure you shower or bathe regularly, take the time to brush your teeth and groom yourself, and wear deodorant to prevent odor.
  • Don't stress out. Showing signs of stress can make people less attractive because it seems like they cannot overcome things in life or that they are easily affected by external forces. People who are stressed also tend to look tired, get sick more often, and are seen as weaker than people who handle stress well.
  • Hang out with your friends. People with strong social ties appear more attractive when they are seen in groups. Friends also tend to brighten your mood, and happiness is always seen as a quality that attracts.
  • Be emotionally stable. While mental illness is something we often cannot control, people want to be with someone who they can rely on. If you have a mental illness, don't be afraid to reach out for help and get treatment. Not only will you be helping yourself, but you will be making yourself more attractive to potential mates and employers. When your mental health issues are addressed, you can become more confident and positive.

No matter what physical traits you are born with, whether you are blessed to be a Greek God or a Fred Flintstone, there are many ways to make yourself more attractive and appealing to potential partners and employers. Boosting self-esteem is one way to achieve this. If you’re not sure where to start, consider chatting with a mental health professional.

Research shows that there is a link between self-esteem and our relationships. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, for example, found that high self-esteem enhances the quality of our relationships, and good relationships boost our self-esteem, regardless of how attractive you think you are.

A man sits at his computer and sips an espresso in a coffee shop. He wears a black button down collared shirt.

By working with a licensed counselor, you help increase your self-esteem and learn strategies to be more confident that others will love you as much as you love yourself! Consider exploring online therapy, which research shows is an effective option with many added benefits. For example, this study, conducted by Brigham Young University researchers, found that technology-based therapy is as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy, with the potential to be delivered at a lower cost and with more convenience.

Accessibility and affordability are at the heart of BetterHelp, the online service that pairs you with a trusted, certified counselor without having to ever leave the house. Do you prefer to correspond in writing? Or does a video conference better suit you? You decide when and how to connect with your therapist. Read these reviews from patients like you working through similar issues with BetterHelp counselors:

“Mr. Hunt has really opened my eyes and mind to understand what is deep in my heart. He encourages me to dig down deep. He also makes me feel good about myself and how I am trying so hard to get what I need to heal.”

Christopher Hunt

“Great experience so far, Brad is a compassionate listener and very understanding. I am learning new things about myself and challenging old limiting beliefs. Also learning how to cope with certain difficulties by applying new techniques.”

Brad Rzepniewski, LCSW

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.