The better looking have better careers. They receive better grades in college, they receive higher paychecks and are the first to be promoted. Why is this true and to what extent do looks play a part in our ability to persuade and get ahead?

Finally, what can you do about it?

Why Are Looks So Important to Us?

It comes from when we are infants. Within seventy-two hours after birth, we are prewired to appreciate beautiful people and thus stare at them for longer periods of time. Naturally, infants will look at and analyze smiles more than frowns.

Unknowingly, parents will gaze at good-looking infants and care for them more than parents with unattractive infants will.

Babies who are perceived as unattractive have their diapers changed less frequently, are burped less often and are not fed on as set a schedule as good-looking babies. Interestingly enough, the parents have no idea that they are doing this.

The 4-Second First Impression

Did you know that people whom you meet make a decision about you within 4 seconds or less? In this time, millions of neurons in their brain have been activated. Without being prompted to do so, the human brain will quickly try to categorize the new individual.

This is before even saying hello. This judgment is made without knowing political affiliations, job or marital status, personal history or even basic personality traits. When first meeting a person, studies show that a woman will look at the individual's body, while a man will look at the face first.

It can take quite a bit of work to overcome any initial judgments. However, sometimes that initial judgment is too concrete.

The Skewed Perception That Someone's Appearance Gives Us

College professors who are good-looking are consistently voted among the top educators in universities. In studies done by J.E. Singer, conventionally attractive females received significantly higher grades than unattractive females. Conventionally attractive females will enjoy a net worth that is roughly 11 times more than "unattractive" females.

In our heavily gendered society, attractive men don't hold as much power, as women place less importance on looks than men do. In times of war, peace treaties handed to the opposing side by an attractive person have been known to get signed without even being read.

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According to ABC news 35 million men in the United States are currently losing their hair. That's about 50% of the male population. 25% of that 35 million is comprised of people under 30. By contrast, only 10% - 20% of male U.S. Senators are bald. Moreover, fewer than 25% of Fortune 500 CEO's are bald.

What Can You Do to be on an Even Keel With Your Conventionally Better Looking Co-Workers?

Dress and look your best. Since women observe the chest before they do the face, always wear a very nice tie and matching shirt. This is the last part of your wardrobe that you want to save money on. However, you don't have to splurge on every piece of business attire.

The basic rule is to pick well-constructed clothing pieces that fit you correctly. You can be wearing the highest-end suit there is, but if it fits horribly or has old coffee stains on the lapel, you're out of luck.

More importantly, smile. Positive attitude and upbeat energy will instantly cue other people's brains to respond better to you. It's a kind of social law of reciprocity: if someone smiles at you, you are more inclined to smile back. Human beings - adults as well as babies - respond better to smiles than to frowns.

This fact can be translated from what you do with your facial muscles all the way to how you speak and think about your day and the tasks at hand. Be positive, and others think positively about you.

Acting positive often translates from feeling positive. Eat right, prioritize sleep and physical activity. When you are properly nourished, well-rested, and have healthy ways to deal with day-to-day anxiety (exercise, meditation, and other activity go a long way to mitigating anxiety, depression and more), you won't just look better, you'll feel better. And looking and feeling better or worse is a self-perpetuating cycle. One tends to follow the other.

Ken Sundheim(45285)
Credit: Michael Benabib