'Ugly' finding: Unattractive workers suffer more

Jun 19, 2013
A study by Brent Scott, business scholar at Michigan State University, suggests unattractive workers are more likely to be bullied in the workplace. Credit: Michigan State University

People who are considered unattractive are more likely to be belittled and bullied in the workplace, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by a Michigan State University business scholar.

"Frankly, it's an ugly finding," said Brent Scott, associate professor of management and lead investigator on the study. "Although we like to think we're professional and mature in the workplace, it can be just like high school in many ways."

While plenty of research has found that attractive students tend to be more popular in school, the study is the first to link attractiveness to cruelty in the workplace. The results appear in the research journal Human Performance.

The researchers surveyed 114 workers at a health care facility in the southeastern United States. The workers were asked how often their co-workers engaged in cruel behavior toward them (which included saying hurtful things, acting rudely and making fun of them).

People who didn't know the judged their attractiveness from .

The unattractive workers were treated much more harshly than employees even when other key factors were taken into account, including age, gender and how long they had worked at the health care facility.

The researchers also collected information on how agreeable or friendly the workers were, based on completed by their spouses, partners or good friends. The study found that disagreeable workers, like unattractive employees, were treated more harshly than their co-workers.

"Our findings revealed that both and appearance matter," Scott said.

Knowing the potential targets of hurtful behavior could help managers monitor susceptible employees to prevent them from becoming victims or to provide counseling and social support if prevention attempts fail, he said.

Explore further: Willingness-to-pay for monorail services in Penang, Malaysia

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report finds it pays to hire disabled workers

Mar 05, 2013

Expanding the workplace talent pool through hiring employees with disabilities makes good business sense, according to a report produced by an ILR School partnership with The Conference Board.

Recommended for you

P90X? Why consumers choose high-effort products

1 hour ago

Stuck in traffic? On hold for what seems like an eternity? Consumers often face situations that undermine their feelings of control. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when a person's sense of con ...

Overdoing it: Multiple perspectives confuse consumers

2 hours ago

Television commercials for luxury vehicles pack a lot in their 30-second running times: the camera offers quick shots of the soft leather upholstery, the shiny colors, the state-of-the-art entertainment system, ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ToolMan78
1 / 5 (2) Jun 20, 2013
Well I'm glad someone figured that out.