Today in research that confirms what you suspected in junior high school: hot people are meaner than average-looking folks. Also, mean people make more money.

According to the Observer, researchers put subjects through the classic prisoner's dilemma experiment, in which players can choose to cooperate or to screw each other over for a potentially greater benefit. They found that people with more symmetrical faces were more likely to pick the screw-over option. Their explanation:

As people with symmetrical faces tend to be healthier and more attractive, they are also more self-sufficient and have less of an incentive to co-operate and seek help from others. Through natural selection over thousands of years, these characteristics continue to the present day.

Basically, symmetrical people don't have to be nice, because they can accomplish things on their own through genetic superiority — or just get people to do stuff for them because they're so hot. Of course, not all studies have found a link between symmetry and attractiveness, and attractiveness in general is a slippery and difficult thing to study. But if being hot does make you meaner, it could also make you richer — according to a study released earlier this month, men who scored low in measures of "agreeableness" — a tendency toward helping and cooperating with others — made 18% more money per year than those who scored high. For women, the difference was a more modest 5%. So being mean pays, but less if you're a lady.


Some studies show attractive people make more money than their less-attractive counterparts — could some of this be the result of their meanness? Unclear, but it's worth noting that asshole behavior is actually bad for companies — research has found that "incivility" increases employee turnover, which isn't surprising at all. Some companies are instituting programs to train their employees not to be jerks. And while it would be unethical to target sexy employees for anti-meanness seminars, and the hot-mean link clearly needs more study, it's worth remembering that catering to pretty people even if they're nasty isn't all that good for anyone involved.


Are Beautiful People 'Selfish By Nature'? [Observer]
Hey, You! Mean People Earn More, Study Finds [WSJ]

Earlier: Being A Jerk At Work Hurts Women, But Men Thrive