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Ugly people have disadvantage in salary, some careers

Friday - 8/31/2012, 8:58am  ET

Bening.jpg
The success of realtors, like Annette Bening's character in ''American Beauty,'' depends on their attractiveness, according to this study. (AP)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It pays to be good-looking.

Research shows someone with above-average looks earns considerably more than an employee with a below-average appearance, according to Daniel Hamermesh, researcher and author of "Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful."

Men's looks matter more than women's in terms of salary, he says, according to U.S. News & World Report. Unattractive people have a harder time breaking into certain occupations, including law and politics.

"Like any other skill that you don't have, if you're bad-looking, avoid the occupations where it matters," Hamermesh says.

Other research shows attractiveness plays a role in selling real estate.

Good-looking agents sell properties at higher prices than less attractive agents, says Sean Salter, a professor of finance at Middle Tennessee State University, according to the same U.S. News report.

However, Salter found it takes attractive agents far longer to sell a house, perhaps because a higher asking price might require more time to find a suitable buyer.

"There's a clear trade-off here," says Salter.

Salter's study also found good-looking agents take fewer listings and make fewer sales, which leads him to believe they're using beauty as a crutch.

What do you think? Does having good looks produce a financial advantage?

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)