Good grooming offsets pay disadvantage of being unattractive

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A warning goes out to those young men thinking they may let their mo grow wild and woolly – good grooming generates a wage premium of 4% to 5% for young men who are well groomed.

The statistics were published in a recent paper, Beauty and the Labor Market: Accounting for the Additional Effects of Personality and Grooming, by researchers at the University of Miami.

The team discovered that physical appearance and personality have a positive effect on earnings in the marketplace, and that good grooming may also offset the pay disadvantage for those who are physically unattractive.

Additionally, it was found that while good grooming also affects women's wages, it is a less prominent factor.

While previous research has found a “plainness penalty” of 5% to 10% of wages for both men and women is often applicable, the new research was the first of its kind to also look at factors such as personality and grooming.

Professor Phil Robins, senior researcher at the University of Miami, said “We’re finding that these non-cognitive factors do matter from the very beginning.”

The new research comes off the back of an initial study conducted by the group, which studied the effect that attractiveness, grooming and personality had on high school students’ GPAs.

It was found that although beauty on its own affected students’ GPA positively, when grooming and personality were thrown into the mix, personality was the most important factor for girls with high GPAs and grooming was the most important factor for boys.

As an extension of the first study, the new research took the same group of students and analysed their career progression from ages 18-26, to determine if these three traits had an effect on their salary and earnings.

Again it was found that men who were better groomed than their peers earned more, as did women with more likeable personalities.

Co-researcher Professor Michael French said, “I think it revolves around the fact that society likes women to have pleasant personalities more than men. Maybe men are assumed to be more aggressive.”

He added, “A pleasant personality may not be a social norm for men, whereas grooming, perhaps wearing sharp clothes and dressing like an executive, is important for men.”

Christian Garcia, director of the Toppel Career Centre, told The Miami Hurricane that personality, beauty and grooming have a positive effect on success in the job market.

He said while he could not account for a person’s beauty, if someone is hoping to impress a potential employer at an interview or get a promotion over a competing employee, he or she better should attempt to look their best and act professionally.

“All employers for the most part want [candidates] who present themselves professionally, who look polished and who look confident. Companies want to make sure [an applicant] can fit into their culture,” Garcia said.

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