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The Ugliness Problem- Is it irrational to discriminate against the appearance-challenged?
Forbes ^ | Dan Seligman

Posted on 08/04/2005 1:38:38 PM PDT by Asphalt

Is it irrational to discriminate against the appearance-challenged? Not entirely.

A sizeable and growing body of literature attests to the fact that homely people confront disadvantages not only in the competition for spouses but in many other areas of life. They have lower incomes than handsome types. When accused of crime, they tend to be dealt with more harshly by judges and juries. One recent report, sorrowfully dwelt upon by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, concludes that less attractive children are discriminated against by their own parents. (Parents are alleged to be less mindful of the safety of unattractive tots.)

In most academic venues and popular media the reaction has been to emphasize the irrational thinking that underlies discrimination against the ugly. The alternative perspective, about to be advanced on this page, questions whether the discrimination really is so irrational.

The classic article about the economic effects of physical appearance, published in the December 1994 American Economic Review, was written by Daniel S. Hamermesh (University of Texas, Austin) and Jeff E. Biddle (Michigan State). It relies on three studies (two American, one Canadian) in which interviewers visited people's homes, asked the occupants a lot of questions about their education, training and job histories, and discreetly (one hopes) rated each man or woman on physical attractiveness. The ratings were on a scale of one (best) to five (worst). In the larger of the two American samples 15% of interviewees were rated "quite plain" or "homely"--categories four and five.

Hamermesh and Biddle found that men in the top two categories enjoyed incomes 5% above those of men rated merely average in appearance. The unfortunate fellows in the two bottom categories were paid 9% below the average. The results for women workers were somewhat similar, except that the workplace effects were smaller. The study controlled for differences in education, experience and several other factors affecting pay but did not measure (and thus did not adjust for) intelligence.

Hamermesh and Biddle agree that it's rational to pay more for good looks in some occupations, e.g., salesperson, but deny that this explains much of the pay gap. They leave you thinking that the basic dynamic is pure employer discrimination--a simple preference for good-looking people. Their paper says nothing about the policy implications of this perspective, but in a recent conversation with Hamermesh I discovered that he is sympathetic to ugly people who want laws to bar the discrimination.

But is it entirely irrational to view ugly people as generally less competent than beautiful people? It is hard to accept that employers in a competitive economy would irrationally persist in paying a premium for beauty--while somehow never noticing that all those lookers were in fact no more intelligent and reliable than the ugly characters being turned down. In the standard economic model of discrimination put forward years ago by Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, employers who discriminate irrationally get punished by the market, i.e., by competitors able to hire competence at lower rates.

The mating practices of human beings offer a reason for thinking beauty and intelligence might come in the same package. The logic of this covariance was explained to me years ago by a Harvard psychologist who had been reading a history of the Rothschild family. His mischievous but astute observation: The family founders, in 18th-century Frankfurt, were supremely ugly, but several generations later, after successive marriages to supremely beautiful women, the men in the family were indistinguishable from movie stars. The Rothschild effect, as you could call it, is well established in sociology research: Men everywhere want to marry beautiful women, and women everywhere want socially dominant (i.e., intelligent) husbands. When competent men marry pretty women, the couple tends to have children above average in both competence and looks. Covariance is everywhere. At the other end of the scale, too, there is a connection between looks and smarts. According to Erdal Tekin, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, low attractiveness ratings predict lower test scores and a greater likelihood of criminal activity.

Antidiscrimination laws being what they are, it is sometimes difficult for an employer to give intelligence tests or even to ascertain criminal histories. So maybe the managers who subconsciously award a few extra points to the handsome applicants are rational. Or at least not quite as stupid as they look.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: fuglypeople; psychology
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To: Revolting cat!
Good God! Talk about FUGLY!

I posted those two guys four years ago and it was deleted by the mod. I think it was too scary for people to see.

101 posted on 08/04/2005 2:18:57 PM PDT by MotleyGirl70
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To: Asphalt
The mating practices of human beings offer a reason for thinking beauty and intelligence might come in the same package

First let me state that I am a woman. I have a friend whose husband I thought was rather cute when I first met him. He opened his mouth and I've never thought him cute ever again. He is a dimwit and he isn't blond either.

102 posted on 08/04/2005 2:19:08 PM PDT by TXBubba ( Democrats: If they don't abort you then they will tax you to death.)
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To: Asphalt
Yeah, sure. That's why all of the girls (both of them) in my Fluid Dynamics and Wave Mechanics classes were supermodels on the side. We used to have a joke in my college Physics classes, though it is true far more often than not: "Beauty times Brains equals a constant." Sadly, telling it to an attractive woman usually confirms the theory. ("Huh? I don't get it.")

According to Erdal Tekin, a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, low attractiveness ratings predict lower test scores and a greater likelihood of criminal activity.

And the fact that less educated/intelligent people might not take as good care of themselves never crossed their minds...

103 posted on 08/04/2005 2:19:15 PM PDT by Charles H. (The_r0nin) (Still teaching... or a reasonable facsimile thereof...)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

I too absolutely detest having my pic taken.

I have been known to pull film out of cameras.


104 posted on 08/04/2005 2:20:10 PM PDT by Darksheare ("Just because I have a paper heart, doesn't mean tearing it is okay." -The man with the candy face)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

I have no idea what you look like, but I think all Republican Biker Chicks are cool.


105 posted on 08/04/2005 2:20:45 PM PDT by When do we get liberated?
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To: JimWforBush

The ORIGINAL Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach)!

106 posted on 08/04/2005 2:21:03 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Graham Petrie, 1911 - 2005: Rest in Peace.)
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To: When do we get liberated?

Thanks!!


107 posted on 08/04/2005 2:21:37 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Thrusher
"How exactly do you outlaw discrimination against ugly people? How do you write that law, let alone enforce it?"

You just let me worry about the wording of the law.

Sincerely,


108 posted on 08/04/2005 2:21:55 PM PDT by Freemyland
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To: Darksheare
Well I have 3 pics of you in my Freepmail somewhere. So if mine shows up, so will yours!!! (devious laughter)
109 posted on 08/04/2005 2:22:52 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Asphalt

save


110 posted on 08/04/2005 2:22:56 PM PDT by krunkygirl
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To: Major_Risktaker
I do NOT want that woman to be President! Nor do I want Feinstein or DeGeneres as President, either!
111 posted on 08/04/2005 2:23:38 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Graham Petrie, 1911 - 2005: Rest in Peace.)
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To: Asphalt
I have an announcement to deliver to all of the cute people all over the world.
If you're out there and you're cute, maybe you're beautiful, I just want to tell you something:
There's more of us ugly &@#$%*@#$%ers than you are, hey!

FZ
112 posted on 08/04/2005 2:23:45 PM PDT by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - IT'S ISLAM, STUPID! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth)
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To: Asphalt

"When I was born the doctor took one look at my face, turned me over and said, "Look, twins!""


113 posted on 08/04/2005 2:24:10 PM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything!")
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

Well, if you do, use the one with the most humor use available.


114 posted on 08/04/2005 2:24:27 PM PDT by Darksheare ("Just because I have a paper heart, doesn't mean tearing it is okay." -The man with the candy face)
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To: Revolting cat!

Never get into fights with ugly people, they have nothing to lose.


115 posted on 08/04/2005 2:24:46 PM PDT by Hand em their arse
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To: Darksheare

I am holding your pic to keep you from posting mine!


116 posted on 08/04/2005 2:25:29 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick
I will probably have to pay a massive bribe to my best friend and his wife-to-be to not show them to anyone.

OTOH, at least I don't have to have my own wedding pictures laying around. A desperate troll wouldn't date or marry me. At least, since it's not my wedding, I can escape the majority of the pictures. Might be able to get away with only being in one or two.

If I'm lucky.
117 posted on 08/04/2005 2:25:42 PM PDT by JamesP81
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To: JamesP81

Well, I at least got someone to marry me. Poor bastard!


118 posted on 08/04/2005 2:26:59 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Hand em their arse
If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life 
Never make a pretty women your wife 
Go for my personal point of view 
Get an ugly girl to marry you 

A pretty women makes her husband look small 
it very often causes his downfall 
As soon as he merrys her then she starts 
to do the things that will break his heart 
but if you make an ugly women your wife 
you'll be happy for the rest of your life 
An ugly women cooks meals on time 
and she'll always give you a piece of Mind 

119 posted on 08/04/2005 2:27:14 PM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything!")
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To: Freemyland

When you look up ugly in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Waxman.


120 posted on 08/04/2005 2:28:31 PM PDT by MotleyGirl70
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To: Revolting cat!

Jimmy Soul!


121 posted on 08/04/2005 2:28:35 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Graham Petrie, 1911 - 2005: Rest in Peace.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

I can't post yours.
I filled up my web space and cannot post yours.


122 posted on 08/04/2005 2:29:10 PM PDT by Darksheare ("Just because I have a paper heart, doesn't mean tearing it is okay." -The man with the candy face)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick
Well, I at least got someone to marry me. Poor bastard!

Maybe there is a trick to this, some secret you can let me in on? I admit that being 210 and going bald at 24 is not helping me out any, but maybe it isn't totally impossible.
123 posted on 08/04/2005 2:29:27 PM PDT by JamesP81
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

Judging from the pic of you, he's a lucky..
Well.. you'lll just have to trust my eyes then!


124 posted on 08/04/2005 2:29:59 PM PDT by Darksheare ("Just because I have a paper heart, doesn't mean tearing it is okay." -The man with the candy face)
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To: An Old Marine

a marine could never be ugly. ;]


125 posted on 08/04/2005 2:30:43 PM PDT by Diva Betsy Ross (Code pink stinks!)
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To: TheTrueBeliever
beauty is in the eye of the beholder,

I agree with you there.

126 posted on 08/04/2005 2:31:38 PM PDT by MotleyGirl70
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To: Asphalt

I'm so glad my children were all good looking! I guess they are too.
susie


127 posted on 08/04/2005 2:31:57 PM PDT by brytlea (All you need as ID to vote in FL is your Costco card...)
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To: Darksheare

thank God for that!!


128 posted on 08/04/2005 2:32:28 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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Comment #129 Removed by Moderator

To: martin_fierro

I was kidding


130 posted on 08/04/2005 2:33:02 PM PDT by Asphalt (Join my NFL ping list! FReepmail me| The best things in life aren't things)
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To: JamesP81

There is someone for everyone, do not give up. We are our own worst critics.


131 posted on 08/04/2005 2:33:18 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: martin_fierro

Hmmm I look just like that....at least I have all those lines on my face. Is that what you mean?
susie


132 posted on 08/04/2005 2:33:47 PM PDT by brytlea (All you need as ID to vote in FL is your Costco card...)
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To: Darksheare

Thanks Darks, you are far too kind!


133 posted on 08/04/2005 2:34:03 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: Asphalt

"And we were poor too. Why, if I wasn't born a boy, I'd have nothing to play with!"


134 posted on 08/04/2005 2:34:51 PM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything!")
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks
I do NOT want that woman to be President! Nor do I want Feinstein or DeGeneres as President, either!

Wise Words...

135 posted on 08/04/2005 2:41:42 PM PDT by Major_Risktaker
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To: Hadean
"The appearance-challenged? What the heck does that even MEAN?!

It means that the Feds will soon come up with Affirmative Action legislation forcing Employers to set up a quota to hire Ugly People.

They will suggest catchy slogans for Employment Ads, such as:

"If you're a Boofer, We'll make you an offer!" or "We (HEART) Uglies!" or "We are an Equal Ugly Employer".

136 posted on 08/04/2005 2:41:57 PM PDT by albee (The best thing you can do for the poor is...not be one of them!)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick; Darksheare
I got braces this morning.

Do I qualify?

137 posted on 08/04/2005 2:50:43 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Graham Petrie, 1911 - 2005: Rest in Peace.)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks; JimWforBush

Either one of those works just fine.......


138 posted on 08/04/2005 3:05:50 PM PDT by day10 (Rules cannot substitute for character.)
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To: Asphalt

It's not right, but it's natural..


139 posted on 08/04/2005 3:06:24 PM PDT by k2blader (Hic sunt dracones..)
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To: Asphalt

Whoops

< /cliffclavinmode >

< |:)~


140 posted on 08/04/2005 3:08:19 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Buzzin' on Birfday Cake)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Catherine beats what's-her-face anytime. (I'm female & I'm allowed an opinion, right?)

Catherine looks like a natural in the outfit. What's-her-face looks like a high-price call girl in same outfit.


141 posted on 08/04/2005 3:13:39 PM PDT by madison10
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To: Asphalt

Charisma trumps looks any time, in my experience. People who are average looking but have great personalities and great self-confidence often do better in life than attractive people with no personality or confidence. It's amazing how much charisma can accomplish. Case in point is a woman I knew in college. She was far from attractive. Her nose was very prominent, she had a lazy eye, her breasts were so large that they sagged like a 50 year old's (she was 19), she had broad mannish shoulders, she was overweight, and she dyed her hair a very unnatrual shade of blonde that did not flatter her skin tone. Yet this woman had dozens of men wrapped around her little finger. At any given time she was dating at least 3 different guys, all whom were older (usually grad students) and were generally very good-looking. She could walk into a party or even the campus coffeeshop, strike up a few conversations, and soon have several men falling all over themselves to be with her. Some of these men did this despite the fact that it put their academic careers in jepoardy (they were her TA's). It was totally charisma on her part. She wasn't even nice to these men; she cheated on them and lied constantly. In general her personality was as ugly as her physical appearence. But her charisma just put a spell on everyone. Even I fell for it; when I first met her I thought she was just the most fascinating and friendly girl ever. It took me quite a few months to realize what a jerk she was.


142 posted on 08/04/2005 3:16:44 PM PDT by sassbox
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To: sassbox

Another example: Plain Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who married the then Duke of York and later became queen of England. She was said to be incredibly charming. Wallis Simpson, who was well-dressed and slender but quite homely, managed to snag the future King Edward VIII. She was not exactly charismatic or charming, but she had confidence and style to burn.


143 posted on 08/04/2005 3:32:13 PM PDT by Cecily
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To: Republicus2001

According to Rush: Feminism was created so ugly women had access to mainstream America.

I am thinking that if ugly men and ugly women got together for the ugly movement two things would occur...

OOOOOpppppppssssss sorry that has happened and one of the thing was the formation of the democrat party.


144 posted on 08/04/2005 4:02:02 PM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: martin_fierro

Hey, izzit your birthday, martin? Congrats!!!


145 posted on 08/04/2005 4:10:32 PM PDT by TheBigB (I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party.)
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To: Diva Betsy Ross

DBR is a QTpie. ;o)


146 posted on 08/04/2005 4:11:00 PM PDT by TheBigB (I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party.)
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To: Jersey Republican Biker Chick

Hey, people are nice to me, out of sympathy, I think. ;o)


147 posted on 08/04/2005 4:20:06 PM PDT by pissant
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To: TheBigB

Sho' 'uff IS!

THANKS!


148 posted on 08/04/2005 4:24:44 PM PDT by martin_fierro (Buzzin' on Birfday Cake)
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To: pissant
You post my picture I will hunt you down.
149 posted on 08/04/2005 4:24:57 PM PDT by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (People too weak to follow their own dreams, will always find a way to discourage yours.)
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To: najida
But if you ever saw her fresh outta the shower, she was as plain as a white rabbit.

what has always bothered me are woman who have different personalities depending whether or not they were wearing makeup
150 posted on 08/04/2005 4:25:01 PM PDT by Republicus2001
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