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Attractiveness and the Selection Process

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Attractiveness and the Selection Process Individual Research Assignment

Organizations have their own structured form of identifying and hiring individuals who have the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job at said organization; this is called the selection process or personnel selection (Langton & Stephen 2009). In a typical hiring situation, the decision maker needs to make an informed, prompt selection that suits the needs of the organization. Because of this, stereotypes, like facial attractiveness, have a major impact on these choices. (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). Over the years attractiveness has become an important variable. When research was conducted on the affects of attractiveness the notion of the attractiveness stereotype was formed. This stereotype links physically attractive people to more desirable traits than that of unattractive people (Dickey-Bryant, Lautenschlager, Mendoza, & Abrahams 1986). It has also been noted that people who are considered attractive are expected to lead more luxurious lifestyles including being richer, happier and more successful than unattractive individuals (Dickey-Bryant, Lautenschlager, Mendoza, & Abrahams 1986). Furthermore, attractive people reap the benefits of the “beauty premium”, which allows them to receive favorable treatment in many situations including and not limited to increased likelihood of being hired and promoted, being perceived as smarter, more extraverted and more socially skilled, and being more effective instructors (Olson & Marshuetz 2005). If these studies hold true then from an organizational standpoint, being considered attractive would enhance opportunities for getting jobs and promotions in these environments. Facial attractiveness as a stereotypical component, plays a major role in personnel selection due to the fact that it gives a recruiter a sense of knowing an applicant, provides a cost-effective way of choosing from a variety of candidates, and apparently informs employers of how well a person fits a specific job (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). Desrumaux, De Bosscher, and Leoni’s (2009) approaches the effects of stereotypes during personnel selection in an interesting way by looking at a potential job candidate in terms of their value and competence. The term value refers to social desirability and social utility. Social desirability can be defined as, “the knowledge we have of a person that tells us whether we can approach or avoid that person in order to satisfy our motivations or avoid counter motivational tensions,” (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). Where as social utility can be defined as, “ the knowledge we have of a person’s chances of succeeding or failing, depending on his/her greater or lesser fit with the requirements of the society in which he/she lives,” (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). Thus, a candidate’s competence may be an indicator of social utility and their attractiveness may be linked directly to their social desirability (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). This means a person who is facially and physically attractive will be more socially desirable and in turn, have more sophisticated social utility. Desrumaux, De Bosscher, and Leoni (2009), have the most active and accurate theories regarding personnel selection and facial attractiveness. This is because they speak directly of the attractiveness stereotype and relate it to its impact on job selection. It has been proven that attractive people create positive feelings thus creating social desirability, which in turns ensues that they will be a more efficient workers. This ultimately creates an advantage for people who are deemed attractive by increasing the likelihood of getting a job, influencing employee’s assessments and more frequent salary raises and promotions. Desrumaux, De Bosscher, and Leoni (2009) also state that the attractiveness stereotype or bias depends on a job candidate’s gender and the job he/she is seeking. In this instance men who are considered attractive have increased chances of getting all types of jobs with the exception of jobs that are coined as feminine. Where as attractive women only have increased chances of getting feminine jobs or non-managerial positions (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). This is because attractiveness enhances gender characteristics consequently increasing perceptions of gender-related attributes, making attractive women and men seem more feminine or masculine respectively (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). Though this study was proved true, there are some discrepancies that need to be noted. First and foremost, the size of the sample that they took was relatively small thus it might not be an accurate portrayal of all organizations and their selection process. Finally, this study was only related to sales jobs, which are based solely on relationships; these types of jobs have a stronger relation to the characteristics people perceive attractive individuals to have (Desrumaux, De Bosscher, & Leoni 2009). Each of these perspectives agrees on one singular point, that facially and physically attractive people get more opportunities for a spotless first impression and therefore are perceived to have a better chance at being successful in all aspects of their life. This obviously forms a bias in the process of personnel selection as recruiters have a sense of already knowing and understanding an individual who is attractive, giving them an advantage over other potential workers. Facially and physically attractive workers also have increase probabilities of getting promoted or higher salaries in an organization. This leaves little to be desired for people who are considered unattractive, as they are not getting the same breaks in their career as their attractive coworkers. This could lead to many problems in an organization including and not limited to job dissatisfaction. Employees who are not satisfied with their jobs can express this in four main ways. They can exit by trying to leave the company by looking for new positions that seem to better fit their needs. They can voice their opinions; this is seen as a positive approach to dissatisfaction because the employee is attempting to better conditions for everyone by discussing problems. They can show loyalty by waiting out the unfavorable conditions in hopes that they will eventually get better. And finally, they can neglect which would lead to decreased productivity, which has a negative impact on an organization (Langton & Stephen 2009). Of these four options, two have a detrimental effect on an organization and its success, which is never a positive thing for the growth of a company. Thus, it is important to take steps to eliminate job dissatisfaction and ultimately the attractiveness stereotype when partaking in personnel selection. Since all organizations claim to strive for an atmosphere that encourages growth and productivity, it is in the best interest of employers to avoid biases like the attractiveness stereotype. This is difficult to do because it has been proven on numerous occasions that people feel more warmly towards individuals that are facially and physically attractive. With that being said, organizations can take steps to avoid this bias when choosing candidates for a job. The first step towards this would be to avoid pictures being attached to resumes when looking for a new employee. This way recruiters are focusing on job skills and accomplishments rather than comparing facial features. Once the best possible candidates have been picked through their resumes, it is time for interviews. This is a difficult step to monitor because of our pre-conceived inclination to feel better about attractive people. The only thing to do is try to be impartial to looks and focus on who is best for the job. This also applies to giving promotions and raises; focus on the people who are succeeding rather than the people who should succeed because of their attractiveness. Though it has been proven that the attractiveness stereotype exists and that individuals who are judged as more attractive have an easier time getting jobs and receiving promotions, it is important to remember that they might not be the best candidates for a job. A good candidate will easily fit right into the organization and will have most of the same values that the organization stands for. Thus, it is important to evaluate people based on their skills and accomplishments rather than their looks when taking part in personnel selection.

References Desrumaux, P., De Bosscher, S., & Leoni, V. (2009). Effects of Facial Attractiveness, Gender, and Competence of Applicants on Job Recruitment. Swiss Journal of Psychology. 68(1), 33-42 Dickey-Bryant, L., Lautenschlager, G.J., Jorge, M.L., & Abrahams, N. (1986). Facial Attractiveness and Its Relation to Occupational Success. Journal of Applied Psychology. 71(1), 16-19. Langton, N. & Stephen, R. (2009). Organizational Behaviour: concepts, controversies, applications. Fifth Canadian Edition. Toronto, ON, Canada: Pearson Canada.

Olson, I. & Marshuetz, C. (2005). Facial Attractiveness Is Appraised in a Glance. The American Psychological Association, 5(4), 498-502.

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