Original Research

Brains versus beauty in the knowledge economy

Richard Ford, Gavin Price, Karl B. Hofmeyr, Manoj Chiba
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a897 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.897 | © 2018 Richard Ford, Gavin Price, Karl B. Hofmeyr, Manoj Chiba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2016 | Published: 20 March 2018

About the author(s)

Richard Ford, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Gavin Price, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Karl B. Hofmeyr, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Manoj Chiba, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

Orientation: It is a widely held belief that attractive people generally experience an easier life and that the door to success is opened by perfect bone structure and a sparkling smile. However, attractiveness might play a far lesser role in individual’s achieving their objectives than has previously been thought. Is it possible that an individual’s qualifications may have a greater influence on the perceptions of managers who assess the suitability of a candidate of a knowledge worker?

Research purpose: The study sets out to examine the relative predictive power of physical attractiveness and qualifications in the decision to hire a knowledge worker.

Motivation for the study: The research was motivated by a desire to explore the presence of bias in the decision-making process when seemingly rational individuals are exposed to factors such as physical attractiveness of a job candidate and then faced with a decision on whether to hire them.

Research design, approach and method: A two-phased experimental design was applied to investigate the existence and strength of the beauty premium amongst a group of managers who were provided with fictitious resumes coupled with photographs of the applicants. These managers were requested to make a hiring decision based on the information supplied.

Main findings: Although results confirm the existence of a beauty premium, it was relatively weak. It indicated that qualifications have a greater influence on a manager’s perception of the suitability of a candidate to fill a position of a knowledge worker.

Practical or managerial implications: The research draws attention to the possibility of bias in selection decisions and proposes ways in which such potential bias can be limited.

Contribution: This study contributes to knowledge concerning the existence or otherwise of a so-called beauty premium, with particular reference to its impact in the knowledge economy.

Keywords

human behaviour; behavioural economics; knowledge worker; knowledge economy; beauty premium

Metrics

Total abstract views: 323
Total article views: 415


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.