People First Judge your Success and Income by your Facial Appearance

businessman, businesswoman, success, income, facial appearance

A recent study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reinforces what research has shown for years:  People quickly size you up and form lasting first impressions by looking at your face.  How others judge you can impact the way they treat you, your business success and ultimately your income.  “Those first impressions can become a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy. It’s going to influence your interactions, and the opportunities you have,” stated researcher Thora Bjornsdottir, coauthor of the study.


Editor’s Note: Dr. Brian Machida is a highly experienced, board certified facial plastic surgeon.  He taught for years at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.  Dr. Machida is the Medical Director at STC Plastic Surgery in Ontario, CA in California’s Inland Empire.


Your face really can be your fortune – or your downfall

“Your face is your fortune” is an old adage that has science has proven true.  Sadly, it can also unfairly get in the way of your earning a good income.  Writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle stated:

Plain people earn less than people of average looks, who earn less than the good-looking. The penalty for plainness is 5 to 10 percent, slightly larger than the premium for beauty.

This is particularly true for success in sales.  Researchers from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business reported on their study results:

Buyers judged physically attractive salespeople to be more adept at selling…Buyers were more cordial to good-looking salespeople, bought more from the lookers than the average Joes, and donated more to attractive charity solicitors than to those less physically favored.

success, income, good-looking manAnother W.P. Carey study found that pharmaceutical sales representatives rated more highly in attractiveness generated more prescriptions from the physicians they called on.  This was particularly true for new business.

These were no doubt cases where different pharmaceutical manufacturers produce equivalent medications.   But it shows that even the most objective buyers – physicians determined to help their patients – cannot escape the powerful influence of appearance.  This is one way attractiveness can impact income.

Why looks matter so much in business success

“Nothing succeeds like success,” many businesspeople have learned.  That is certainly true.  People want to work with a winner.  They feel that a prosperous businessperson must be doing it right.  So, just as people in an unfamiliar city believe that a busy restaurant portends a good meal, they work with sales or business people who appear successful.

And while trendy and expensive clothing and cars all add to an air of success, this latest study shows another critical factor to creating the right first impression:  your face.

success, income, attractive face, facial plastic surgery, Inland EmpireResearchers separated participating college students into two groups by annual family income:  less than $60,000 or more than $100,000.  They photographed the students, who maintained neutral expressions.

Next they showed a separate group of participants the photos.  Using nothing but those pictures and their “gut instinct,” they were to determine which ones were “rich or poor.”  Interestingly, their first impressions turned about to be right 53% of the time.  That is better than random chance.

Why looks affect income – even when they’re not part of your job

Looks understandably affect the job prospects and incomes of models, actors and television personalities.  Neuroscience studies show, for instance, that seeing an attractive woman’s face activated a reward center in the brains of heterosexual men.  It made them feel good, as taking a bite of their favorite food had in a previous study.  Seeing an average-looking woman or a man’s face did not produce this effect.

attractive appearance success

Since viewers, for instance, can choose to watch a variety of television programs, they often prefer those featuring actors and actresses whose looks make them feel good.  That is undoubtedly why many shows cast handsome men and beautiful women, who enjoy steady employment and excellent salaries.

But even in professions where looks should not matter, studies show that they make a real difference in success and income.  This is because research consistently finds that people infer personality traits based on facial appearance. 

Etcoff NL, Stock S, Haley LE, Vickery SA – Modulation of Perception of Biologically Important Facial Signals

As highlighted in “Influence: People First Judge Your Competence by Your Face,” Boston University researchers found that models whose faces were made up by a professional makeup artist were judged considerably more competent by others who saw their photos.  Those who viewed pictures of the same models with no makeup rated them substantially less competent.

A University of Texas at Austin study found that while an attractive face is a substantial advantage, an unattractive face is a bigger handicap.  Researchers reported:

Unattractive faces were rated as significantly less sociable, less altruistic and less intelligent than medium attractive faces, which in turn were rated as less sociable than attractive faces.

As related in “First Impressions:  Could an Aging, Less-Attractive Face Send the Wrong Message? aging faces were rated less favorably than average faces on a number of traits. These included capability, mental sharpness, sociability and personal warmth.

Could Turning Back the Clock Help Save Your Income?

Christine Before & After facelift and fractional laser resurfacing by Dr. Brian Machida, facial plastic surgeon, Inland Empire, CaliforniaAge discrimination is an ugly fact of life today.  Research highlighted here shows one reason why.  But facial plastic surgeons and some plastic surgeons are skilled at “turning back the clock.”

At a surprisingly affordable cost it is now possible to look years younger and more attractive – right here in the United States.  Why not have a private consultation with an experienced specialist in your area.  You may find that you’ll look better, feel better, find greater success at work and preserve your income as well.

facelift, neck lift by Dr. Brian Machida, facial plastic surgeon, Inland Empire, Ontario, California
73-year old Before & After facelift & neck lift by Dr. Brian Machida, Ontario, California

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About Dr. Brian Machida, MD, FACS

Dr. Brian K. Machida, MD, FACS is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon. He has an exceptional level of experience, having performed ( read more )

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