The Economist cites a study by Dr. Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas:
The accumulating evidence suggests that physical characteristics do give clues about intelligence, that such clues are picked up by other people, and that these clues are also associated with beauty. And other work also suggests that this really does matter.... [Dr Hamermesh] has collected evidence from more than one continent that beauty really is associated with success--at least, with financial success. He has also shown that, if all else is equal, it might be a perfectly legitimate business strategy to hire the more beautiful candidate.
Even more unfairly, Dr Hamermesh found evidence that beautiful people may bring more revenue to their employers than the less-favored do.
Beauty may matter for business, but can't the less naturally graced make up for biology with a little effort and a credit card? Dr. Hamermesh, unfortunately, dashed that hope as well.
Can you really fake the unfakeable signal? Dr Hamermesh's research suggests that you can but, sadly, that it is not cost-effective--at least, not if your purpose is career advancement... he looked at how women's spending on their cosmetics and clothes affected their income. The answer was that it did, but not enough to pay for itself in a strictly financial sense.Thanks Economist for that cheery Christmas special.