May 20, 2010 at 5:26 PM ET
Diane Mapes writes:
Ugly Betty may have done all right, but for most homely folks, life can be one long kick to the curb.
Cute kids not only get more tender loving care from their parents than less toothsome babes, when they grow up, the unattractive get hired less often and earn 12 percent less than the so-called “beautiful people” of the world, research shows.
Now, it turns out having an ugly mug makes you more 22 percent more likely to be convicted of a crime, according to a Cornell University study. And to make it even worse, convicted blockaways (you know, the ones who look better a block away) are more likely to get hit with a longer, harsher sentence than the average-looking defendants of the world.
The study, which involved 169 Cornell psychology undergrads, determined that potential “impartial” jurors fall into two camps: those who process information in a rational manner (R-Processors) and those who process it by relying on emotions and personal experience (E-Processors).
The study found that rational processors – the ones who rely on analysis, fact and logical argument – didn’t allow looks to factor in. Hot or not, defendants were convicted the exact same way.
But emotional processors – people who are compelled by intuitive hunches or emotional feelings (“Just look at the guy; he looks like a crook!”) – were not only more likely to find homely defendants guilty, they were more likely to give them harsher sentences (on average, study participants recommended 22 more months in prison for the unattractive).
Convicted defendants who were easy on the eyes, however, got easier sentences from the emo crowd.
The new finding echoes the research of two economists who announced four years ago that bad-looking people are more apt to grow up to be criminals. The economists didn't know why the facially disadvantaged were more likely to be crooks, but maybe some of these ugly ducklings weren’t so much guilty of a crime as not living up to society’s exacting beauty standards.
The bottom line? If you’ve been busted for a crime, it would be smart to call for a makeover, as well as a lawyer.