Ceremony of ULB and VUB graduates on the Grand-Place in Brussels, October 10, 2022 ©BelgaImage
To come to this conclusion, the professor based himself on the results obtained by five cohorts of students in first and second years in industrial engineering at the University of Lund. He classified the courses in the program into two categories: “quantitative” courses (mathematics or physics, for example) and “non-quantitative” courses (economics, for example). To determine the beauty of the 307 students analyzed, he asked an independent jury of 74 people of the same age as the students to rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the photo used for their student card. He then looked to see if there was a correlation between beauty and grades.
“When all courses are taken into account, there is a positive, although not statistically significant, relationship between attractiveness and grades“, explains the professor. However, when we look at only non-quantitative courses, the relationship between attractiveness and ratings becomes significant. In other words, in these courses, beauty would indeed play a role. According to the professor, this is due to the fact that these courses include more group work, seminars and oral presentations. In other words, in these courses, teachers are more likely to interact with students.
A study conducted in 2016 by the University of Denver had already looked at the links between results and beauty. Again, the students were ranked on a scale of 1 to 10. During this study, it appeared that beauty had no impact on the boys’ grades. In contrast, less pretty girls tended to have lower grades than girls considered pretty.
Is it really a matter of beauty?
In the collective imagination, beautiful people tend to be more successful than others. Remember the sketch of the “Blond” by Gad Elmaleh, which tells the perfect life of a handsome man. In fact, as Psychologies explains, studies have shown that beautiful people are paid more than less beautiful people. But is it really due to their beauty? For Sophie Cheval, clinical psychologist, “it is because we assume that the beautiful succeed in everything that they end up doing it. We behave more favorably towards them and therefore give them every opportunity to succeed.”
If the “premium beauty” exists in certain areas, it cannot explain everything. In reality, if beautiful people sometimes succeed better than others, it is also because they have more self-confidence. Since beauty is valued, beautiful people tend to be more daring and more productive. This would be seen even more in men.
Going back to the Lund University study, during distance learning courses, the grades of attractive female students in non-quantitative courses dropped, while they remained the same for males. “Men Considered Attractive Receive Higher Grades, Even When Teachers Can’t See Their Faces“, explains the researcher. “Some research in psychology shows that attractive men are more confident and hardworking, which benefits them regardless of the mode of teaching.”
We have seen it: stereotypes related to beauty can have positive consequences for people who meet the standards of the moment. But these consequences can just as well be negative. “Extreme beauty worries, frightens and creates negative emotions in those who are less beautiful. This can thus constitute a brake on promotion, on hiring., recalls Le Monde. “People who are too beautiful can be seen as superficial and silly.”
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