Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Effect of Physical Attractiveness on Selection Decisions in India and the United States

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Effect of Physical Attractiveness on Selection Decisions in India and the United States

Article excerpt

This study examined the influence of physical attractiveness on selection decisions in two very different cultures, namely the United States and India. Most of the research on attractiveness bias has been conducted in western cultures like the United States. India was chosen for comparison because India continues to grow strong in the global marketplace and it is important to understand how decisions are made in the Indian environment. This was the first study to compare the attractiveness bias in India and the United States. 203 Indians and 129 Americans participants reviewed resumes and photographs of attractive and unattractive men and women. Different photographs were used in the American and Indian sample with separate pilot tests conducted in each study. Participants rated each applicant on how qualified the applicant appeared for the job, how likely it was that he/she would hire the applicant, and what amount he/she would offer the applicant as a starting salary. The results of the American sample support the "beauty is beastly" stereotype with attractive males receiving the highest ratings and the attractive female receiving the lowest ratings. The results of the Indian sample support the 'what is beautiful is good' stereotype with the attractive female and male applicant being perceived to be more qualified, more likely to be hired and to receive a higher salary than the unattractive female or male.

Many studies have long supported the idea that an individual's physical attractiveness influences the inferences that others make about them. This physical attractiveness stereotype, also known as "what is beautiful is good" (Dion, Berscheid, and Walster, 1972), suggests that those who are physically attractive are associated with possessing more desirable personality traits, future life outcomes, and social skills than those who are less attractive. Watkins and Johnston (2000, p.76) claim that the 'fundamental principle of person perception is that people form first impressions of others on the basis of their immediately apparent features, such as physical appearance'. Individuals who are considered to be physically attractive are also believed to possess other positive attributes such as popularity and sociability (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani and Longo, 1991). Within the context of the world of work, physical attractiveness has been shown to influence hiring (Cann, Siegfried and Pearce, 1981; Boor, Wartman and Reuben, 1983; Marlowe, Schneider and Nelson, 1996; Chiù and Babcock, 2002; Goodchild, Mount and Parks, 2006), performance appraisals (Morrow and McElroy, 1984), salary determinations (Dipboye, Arvey and Terpestra, 1977), and promotions (Chung and Leung, 2001; Morrow, McElroy, Stamper and Wilson, 1990). Specifically in selection, employment interviewers' may believe these characteristics are indicative that the individual is more qualified for the job and more deserving of a higher salary (Morrow, 1990). In fact, a recent meta-analytic review found that attractive people had an advantage over unattractive people in several job-related outcomes (Hosoda, StoneRomero, and Coats, 2003).

Most of the research on physical attractiveness has been conducted in Western societies, predominantly, the United States and Canada. In these times of increased globalization of business, it is important to consider the generality of this research to people of different cultures. This study examined the influence of physical attractiveness on selection decisions in two very different cultures, namely the US and India. India was chosen for study because India continues to grow strong in the global marketplace and it is important to understand how decisions are made in the Indian environment. In analyzing the differences between these two cultures, one commonly used differentiation is individualism and collectivism. The United States is considered to be an extremely individualistic culture whereas India is considered to be a collectivistic culture (Triandis, 1995). …

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