Career women-if you want to be taken more seriously on the job or in interviews, a Harvard study suggests wearing makeup. The value of being attractive and looking good has never been questioned, but now research shows it is also linked to credibility. According to the Harvard study, the right amount of makeup increases other people's perceptions of a woman's competence, trustworthiness and likeability. The Harvard Crimson reports that "women who wear makeup are perceived as more attractive and competent than those who do not," citing the study led by Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Nancy L. Etcoff.
The study findings showed that participants' judgments of attractiveness and credibility were significantly impacted by cosmetics, and the Crimson added, "makeup provides additional facial stimuli that influence more long-term, deliberative judgments on social factors such as trustworthiness."
Twenty-five female participants were photographed with three different looks. The first with no makeup, referred to by researchers as "natural." In the second look, some make up was applied to give the women a look deemed "professional," then for the third look the women wore the most makeup, giving them an appearance the researchers called "glamorous." The photographs were shown to 88 women and 61 men for a split second so they could make a snap judgment. A second group of 119 men and women were given unlimited time to review the photographs. The New York Times reports that the participants from both the snap judgment and unlimited groups judged the women wearing make up with both the "professional" and the "glamorous" looks were deemed more competent than the barefaced women.
The study was commissioned by Proctor and Gamble, which sells both CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabana makeup. The New York Times quotes one of the authors and Proctor and Gamble scientist, Sarah Vickery, Ph.D., as noting that women should be careful to assess the proper level of make up for different work settings, noting that deeper shades of lipstick may offer a take-charge impression, while a lighter tone would help provide a more balanced, collaborative appeal, adding that cosmetics "can significantly change how smart people think you are on first impression, or how warm and approachable, and that look is completely within a woman's control, when there are so many things you cannot control."
In a recently released book, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful, University of Texas at Austin Economist Daniel Hamermesh studied the link between attractiveness and success. The book reports that "the attractive are more likely to be employed, work more productively and profitably, and even receive more substantial pay."
New York Times
The Harvard Crimson
Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful