In this field, being attractive could work against you

Chris Pratt has been voted one of the most attractive actors in Hollywood.
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In many fields, chief among them entertainment, it pays to be attractive. A large body of research underscores how beautiful people are more likely to be hired, get a raise or live happily.

But in the world of science, being attractive could be a bad thing.

A new study finds that scientists who are perceived as attractive are less likely to be seen as "good scientists" who do "quality" research.

According to the study, people show more initial interest in attractive scientists and their work. But their good looks end up costing them in the long run.

In the study, conducted by psychologists at the University of Essex and the University of Cambridge, some 3,700 people were split into three groups and asked to judge scientists and their work.

In the study, 3,700 participants rate the headshots of 600 geneticists and physicists.
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The first group looked at 600 head shots of geneticists and physicists and rated them based on attractiveness, intelligence and friendliness.

The two latter groups were given a series of scientific articles along with the head shot of the main scientist behind the work. Researchers asked one group how interested they were in learning more about the person's work, while they asked the other group to rate the scientist's competence and intelligence.

Participants were more likely to show interest in research done by "attractive" scientists. But the positive effect was short-lived. When it came to the second question on competence, scientists with good looks were much less likely to be described as people doing "accurate" and "important" research.

Scientists perceived to be unattractive, on the other hand, were more likely to be seen as quality researchers.

"I was very surprised that attractiveness could be a negative quality," says Ana Gheorghiu, one of the study's authors, in an interview with "Live Science."

I was very surprised that attractiveness could be a negative quality.
Ana Gheorghiu

"The way scientists are perceived affects how people apply their findings to their own lives, to influence government and science policy," Gheorghiu says.

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