Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and P&G recently unveiled the results of a study they conducted about perceived trustworthiness, competence, and likability.
In the study, 149 adults were shown images of 25 women wearing various "stages" of makeup. A professional makeup artist applied makeup to the women, with "natural" and no makeup, "professional", and "glamorous".
The images were flashed for 250 milliseconds to one group subjects and asked about first impressions, and another group was shown the images for a longer length of time and asked whether they would hire the woman and whether she would be competent.
In both groups, the subjects rated the women wearing makeup higher approval compared to the bare-faced women.
Apparently, this was the first study ever done to explore the long-standing belief that attractive people are more successful in their careers and are more successful in getting jobs.
"For the first time, we have found that applying makeup has an effect beyond increasing attractiveness - it impacts first impressions and overall judgments of perceived likeability, trustworthiness, and competence," said Nancy Etcoff PhD.
While I think that part of the study was to research better ways to effectively market cosmetics, it definitely touches into perception. From what I read, the study only explored the surface of the issue--they did find that people find makeup-wearers more attractive, but I want to know why.
Since this is the first study ever done, there could be many other explanations. Such as why does someone who is makeup free appear to be incompetent? The study didn't seem to answer that. It has been said that humans are wired to be drawn to more attractive people because of evolution and such--but how does this factor into job search? That wasn't explored either. Ruling out rival hypotheses is really important when considering this study.
People have different tastes and preferences when it comes to makeup on women, too. Does every employer share the same tastes? Speaking of which, maybe they should've gotten their sample from a group of hiring managers if that's part of the reason why they conducted the study. Hmm...
So like with any study, people shouldn't just jump to conclusions--women shouldn't just go out and buy lots of P&G makeup because of the results.