Unattractive, mean people may be more likely to be bullied at work


Researchers have discovered that people who are more unattractive or mean are more likely to be bullied in the workplace.

"Frankly, it's an ugly finding," lead investigator Brent Scott, associate professor of management at Michigan State University, said to MSU Today. "Our findings revealed that both personality and appearance matter."

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, about 35 percent of the U.S. workforce -- 53.5 million Americans -- admit to being bullied at work.

For the study, 114 health care facility workers were questioned about if they experienced any mean behavior from co-workers. Prompts revolved around being made fun of, having hurtful things said about them or being treated in a rude way.

Spouses, partners and people close to the workers were also given questionnaires rating how nice and easily to get along with they were.

Another unrelated group was shown pictures of the subjects and asked to rate them on how attractive they were.

Even when age, gender and how long someone had worked at the health care facility were taken into account, the unattractive people were treated worse by their co-workers. People who were rated as not as friendly by their spouses, partners and friends were also more likely to be bullied.

However, if you were one of those mean girls (or boys) that happened to be attractive, you might have an easier time at the office.

"If you're unattractive and mean, watch out ... they were bullied the most," Scott told MLive.

"The flip side of that, if you're mean but attractive, then the attractiveness sort of buffers that relationship a little bit."

The study was published in the latest issue of Human Performance.

"It's just one of those findings that it might just be important to be aware of," Scott said to MLive. "Much like research on prejudice or discrimination, sometimes just being aware of your own biases ... can help to reduce them."