A Moment of Science

Key Factors That Determine Your Salary

Do people that are better looking get a higher salary? Does it all depend on smarts? Psychologist agree that both brains and beauty are the key to big bucks.

A business man leaning against a wall.

Photo: Lee Salford (Flickr)

Research shows that people considered to be good looking tend to have higher salaries.

One of our readers wrote in with this question: I’ve heard that people who are good looking make more money than people who aren’t as attractive. If that’s true, what’s the psychology behind it?

Beauty Matters

Interesting question. And the answer, generally speaking, is yes: people considered to be good looking tend to have higher salaries. Every culture has standards of beauty that most people agree on. The standards might be artificial or arbitrary, but they exist.

Psychologists think that attractive people are more confident. And that self confidence tends to translate to more education and better jobs.

Good News For Brains

Obviously brains play a big part in salary as well.  Look at Bill Gates. He isn’t the most attractive guy in the world, and he’s done pretty well. Psychologists have found that, all other things being equal, intelligence is probably the most important factor in terms of salary.

In general, the smarter you are, the more you make. Look at all those geeky computer guys like Steve Jobs and the guys who created Google. Anyway, the overall point is that brains and beauty both matter. You don’t have to have movie star looks to succeed, but it helps.

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