August 12, 2009

Add Health research on personal appearance and academic achievement featured in New York Times

Research on the impact of physical attractiveness, grooming, and personality on high school students’ grade-point averages appeared in the July 26th edition of the New York Times.  The research was conducted by Michael T. French and colleagues from the University of Miami using Add Health data. 

“In their analysis, recently published in the journal Labour Economics, they reported that of the three traits, grooming had the most significant correlation to boys’ grades, and personality to girls’.  When all three characteristics were considered together, boys experienced a statistically significant grade premium for good grooming and a penalty for being slovenly. For girls, pleasant personality had the most impact on grades, and to a lesser extent good grooming.”

“’We say this very guardedly, because we don’t have direct evidence of teacher bias,’ Dr. French says, ‘but what it suggests is that teachers are giving preferential treatment’ in grading.” (July 26, 2009. Comb your hair (boys) and smile (girls). In New York Times.)

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This article is based on research published as the following:

French, Michael T., Philip K. Robins, Jenny F. Homer, and Lauren M. Tapsell. 2009. Effects of physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming on academic performance in high school. Labour Economics 16, no. 4: 373-382. DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2009.01.001