Some less than good looking people (and when I say "some less than good looking people," I really mean me) think that good-looking people were dealt a pretty sweet break.

Why? Research shows that good-looking people:

And just to add some icing to the genetic advantage cake, attractive people also tend to be smarter.

According to this study, good-looking people may be up to 14% smarter than less attractive people: Attractive male children score 13.6 IQ points higher, and attractive female children score 11.4 IQ points higher.

(Wouldn't you hate to be the one that had to classify kids as "attractive" or "unattractive"? Ugh.)

Whether attractive people also tend to be -- at least in an aggregate sense -- more intelligent because of nurture or nature is obviously up for debate. As the researchers write,

"Individuals perceive physically attractive others to be more intelligent than physically unattractive others.

"While most researchers dismiss this perception as a 'bias' or 'stereotype', we contend that individuals have this perception because beautiful people indeed are more intelligent."

Dismissing the attractiveness/intelligence relationship as merely bias is short-sighted, though, especially with kids. If a good-looking boy benefits from the halo effect and teachers, peers, etc. treat him as if he's smart, that feedback may encourage him to try harder, to study more... Sometimes praise, even if the praise is not totally deserved, can become a a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Praise me for a skill I can't perform extremely well yet, and that praise will often help me grow into excellence. What gets measured typically gets improved -- and so does what gets praised. 

So it could just be that good-looking people turn out to be more intelligent because of the way they're treated.

Which leads to a larger point.

If good-looking kids tend to become smarter adults because of the way people treat them... that means a good employee can become a great employee because of the way you treat her.  

It's easy for most of us to recognize great employees; after all, they do great things. And it's very possible that consistent praise is one of the reasons they've become great. It's much harder to find reasons to praise a person who simply meets standards.

But that's why it's so important to try. A few words of recognition -- especially when that recognition is given publicly -- could be just the nudge that inspires an average performer to become a great performer.

Try hard to see the good -- and recognize the good -- in people before they see it in themselves.

You might just provide a spark that helps them reach their true potential.

Published on: Jul 5, 2018
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