‘Unattractive’ Workers More Likely to be Treated Poorly: Study

June 20, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Unattractive workers are more likely to suffer from workplace bullying and cruel behavior, and are also less likely to succeed, according to a Michigan State University study.

“Frankly, it’s an ugly finding,” Brent Scott, associate professor of management and head of the study, the school’s news website MSUToday.com.

The study points out there has been much research into attractiveness in school leading to more popularity, but there have been virtually no studies linking unattractiveness to bullying or cruel behavior at work.

Scott added, “Although we like to think we’re professional and mature in the workplace, it can be just like high school in many ways.”

Researchers at the school surveyed 114 workers at a health care facility in the southern United States. They were asked how often coworkers treated them badly or engaged in “cruel behavior,” according to the website. The behavior included acting rudely, saying harmful things, and making fun of them.

It found that so-called unattractive workers were treated worse than the relatively attractive employees. Other factors, including gender, age, and how long they worked at the facility were taken into account.

The study took into account workers’ agreeability. Families and close friends were asked questions about their personality, according to WXYZ-TV. “Our findings revealed that both personality and appearance matter,” Scott said.

It found that unattractive and disagreeable people were most likely to be treated poorly.

“If you’re unattractive and mean, watch out … they were bullied the most,” Scott told MLive.com. “The flip side of that, if you’re mean but attractive, then the attractiveness sort of buffers that relationship a little bit.”