AUSTIN, TX. (CBS Houston) – According to a new study, those who are attractive in high school are more likely to go on to earn a four-year college degree than those with just average or below average looks.
Researchers tracked 8,918 students from randomly selected high schools and monitored them through after college. Researchers were able to use some control settings, such as parent’s educational background and level of high school classes.
Researchers rated the participants in high school on a five-point scale. About 15 percent were rated as “very attractive,” 35 percent as “attractive,” 44 percent as “average,” 6 percent as “unattractive” or “very unattractive.”
Only about 33 percent finished a four-year degree, but those rated attractive were three percentage points higher than others.
“Only about one-third of that difference can be attributed to the impact of the higher grades in high school so attractiveness seems to be a factor in college success,” Rachel A. Gordon, co-author of the study and a professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago said in a press release.
The researchers found that the attractive students drank more and had more sex than the other students. The study found that the most successful students that were attractive but did not have participate in much drinking and sex.
Researchers used data going back years in which elementary school teachers were shown pictures of students and guessed how intelligent a student was based on their looks.
Gordon hopes this study will make teachers at all levels think about whether they have “some kind of bias” based on a student’s appearance.
Gordon acknowledged that bias was not a key issue in her study, which showed no link between attractiveness and intelligence. She said that when teachers have high expectations for students, the students are motivated and that those who aren’t above average in looks shouldn’t be assumed to be less capable. “It’s important that we think about ways to change that,” she added.
The study was published in the book Physical Attractiveness and the accumulation of Social and Human Capital In Adolescence and Young Adulthood: Assets and Distractions.