Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Judging Scientists by Their Faces

While researchers deemed attractive are thought to be interesting, their less attractive colleagues are considered better scientists, according to a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A trio of researchers from the University of Essex and the University of Cambridge showed some 3,700 people pictures of 300 physicists and 300 biologists from universities in the UK and US and asked them to rate how attractive the person in the picture was and how intelligent the person looked, among other traits. They were also asked how interested they'd be in learning more about that person's research and whether that person looked like someone whose work was accurate and important, as a Cambridge press release recounts.

As the trio reports in PNAS, people were most interested in learning more about the work of people viewed as attractive or competent. However, the more attractive a researcher looked, the less likely he or she was to be viewed as scientist who conducted good research, the team found.

"People can form an impression of a person's personality or character or even ability from a few milliseconds of just viewing their face," Essex's Ana Gheorghiu tells Live Science. She adds that she was "was very surprised that attractiveness could be a negative quality."