A recently released study compares female students’ class grades to a rating of their physical attractiveness. Authors of the study Rey Hernández-Julián and Christina Peters discovered a link between female students’ test scores and their level of physical attractiveness.
The research shows that women judged as less attractive earned lower grades, while those judged as better-looking received higher grades; male professors were more likely to follow this formula than female professors.
The study took place at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where researchers looked at tens of thousands of female students’ records compared to their physical attractiveness ratings, as judged by outside observers from students’ ID card photographs.
Hernández-Julián said the key finding came from looking at better-looking students’ test scores in online courses. He found that the benefits of being attractive did not make a difference within the virtual classroom.
“The main results in our paper were not about whether there is a return to appearance, but whether it would be smaller in online environments, where the student is not seen,” he told NPR.
Research done by Rachel Gordon, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Illinois, produced similar results. Her work shows that better-looking men also receive a more desirable grades.
Although past research shows similar conclusions, Hernández-Julián and Peters’ work provides additional information. There had been past speculations as to whether physical attraction was accompanied by personality traits, such as confidence, that lead students to higher test scores. But Hernández-Julián and Peters saw that appearance was in no way correlated with higher test scores in the virtual class room, concluding that no definite connection exists between personality traits and physical attractiveness.
According to Hernández-Julián, all students should have an equal opportunity to compete academically in a space where looks aren’t evaluated.