Looking Good and Looking Smart

Posted: 30 Jun 2016

See all articles by Olivier Gergaud

Olivier Gergaud

Kedge - Bordeaux Business School

Victor A. Ginsburgh

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE); Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)

Florine Livat

KEDGE Business School; BEM Bordeaux Management School

Date Written: June 28, 2016

Abstract

We analyze the link existing between perceived intelligence and perceived beauty. Here, perceived beauty encompasses a set of personal characteristics as suggested by Hakim’s (2010) erotic capital that allows to consider human capital in a broad sense including several dimensions of attractiveness and attitude and not only facial cues. The analysis is based on original survey data collected and compiled by Epoll Market Research that provides thorough information on how 3,620 American celebrities are perceived by a representative sample of the American population. These celebrities are prominent people in fields like cinema, sports, music, business, politics, etc. We correlate intelligence scores with scores on eleven available physical attributes linked with physical beauty (attractive, beautiful, charming, classy, cute, exciting, glamorous, handsome, physically fit, sexy, and stylish). Results show that being judged classy or charming is positively associated with intelligence whereas looking cute, physically fit, or sexy sends a negative signal about cognitive skills. Since pictures of celebrities are also shown (at random) at half of the participants of the surveys, we can also draw causal inferences on how this “natural experiment” changes perception and correlations.

Suggested Citation

Gergaud, Olivier and Ginsburgh, Victor A. and Livat, Florine and Livat, Florine, Looking Good and Looking Smart (June 28, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2801871

Olivier Gergaud (Contact Author)

Kedge - Bordeaux Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy - BP 921
BP 921
Marseille, PACA 13288
France

Victor A. Ginsburgh

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) ( email )

34 Voie du Roman Pays
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348
Belgium
+32 2 650 3846 (Phone)
+32 2 650 4012 (Fax)

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 3839/4 (Phone)
+32 2 650 3595 (Fax)

Florine Livat

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy - BP 921
BP 921
Marseille, PACA 13288
France

BEM Bordeaux Management School ( email )

Bordeaux (Talence)
France

HOME PAGE: http://www.kedgebs.com

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