Perceptions of facial dominance, trustworthiness and attractiveness predict managerial pay awards in experimental tasks

Laura S. Fruhen, Christopher D. Watkins, Benedict C. Jones

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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Positive associations between physical attractiveness and employee reward are well-documented within the organisational literature. Although the impact of facial cues to trustworthiness and dominance on a number of social outcomes has been established outside of the workplace, the extent to which they, in addition to attractiveness, affect pay at different managerial levels is yet to be investigated. This paper presents research into this issue using a face payment task for shop floor managers (Retail Managers) and senior managers (Heads of Retail Operations). Evaluations indicated that all three facial cues were positively associated with awarded pay at both managerial levels. Moreover, attractiveness had a significantly stronger link with shop- floor managers' than senior managers' pay, whereas perceived trustworthiness and perceived dominance had significantly stronger links with pay for senior managers than shop-floor managers. It further emerged that women were paid more in this experimental task where pay was awarded solely based on facial features and that the facial features were more predictive of women's than men's pay. Awareness of the role of physical cues in pay awards can be considered by organisations to reduce biases in remuneration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1016
Number of pages12
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number6
Early online date4 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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