Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice

Inspiring and informing your business school journey

mobile search icon

Duke Stages Corporate Beauty Contest

Researchers reveal strong ties between appearance and success in business world

By  Sunny Li

Wed Apr 28 2010


CEOs who appear competent earn more money than less competent-looking CEOs, professors at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found out.

Finance professors John Graham, Campbell Harvey and Manju Puri staged a variety of online experiments to ask nearly 2,000 participants to assess photos of more than 100 CEOs and non-executives. 

The trio found that CEOs rated competent just by their appearance tended to have higher income.  CEOs who were rated four or above on a five-point scale for competence had an average total compensation 7.5 percent higher than CEOs who scored three out of five on competence. 

"Other researchers have found links between beauty and workers' pay, and demonstrated that politicians benefit from good looks at election time," Graham told the Duke University website. "We wanted to see whether appearance also plays a role at the corporate executive level."

An official “A Corporate Beauty Contest” is available to download.

In other news, five MBA students in the Tippie College of Business, the University of Iowa, are helping a Chicago non-profit organization with an ambitious plan to provide GPS-enabled cell phones to every blind and visually impaired child in Illinois.

Students will earn credit for their work on the project, which is in aid of the Chicago Lighthouse For People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. The goal is to outfit as many as 1,000 children in the Chicago area with GPS devices.