The goal of this paper is to understand and estimate the degree to which the attractiveness of an applicant in a job application acts to offset the traditional human capital signal of GPA included on the applicants resume. While many studies have explored the relationship between physical attractiveness and earnings within the labor market, the effect of physical attractiveness on hiring practices has been investigated less. Using a model of signaling theory in conjunction with a theory of human capital, a theoretical model was constructed to evaluate the hypothesis that physical attractiveness acts as a signal that increases the perception of productivity among employers. The measure of this effect was obtained through a survey of participants who were asked to act as if they were recruiting officers and screen a job application for the position of sales/office coordinator. Each participant was presented with a job description and 1 of 16 resume-photograph combinations, varying by photograph attractiveness (very attractive, above average, below average, unattractive) and resume quality (measure by GPA 4.0, 3.35, 2.65, 2.0). Participants were then asked to rate how good the application was, the likelihood of offering the applicant an interview, the likelihood of offering the applicant a job and the projected performance of the applicant. Results indicated that physical attractiveness had no impact on productivity evaluations when resumes were low to average quality, but that attractiveness positively impacted participant's evaluations when resumes were of high quality. The results of this paper provide partial evidence for influences of physical attractiveness within hiring practices.


Mellizo, Philip





Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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