Yes, Looks Do Matter in the Workplace

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An article recently published in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly found that hotel customers prefer physically attractive front desk employees because they “increase the guest’s confidence that the service provider can provide a knowledgeable and courteous exchange.” Using a study that compared photographs of models, authors Vincent P. Magnini of Virginia Tech, Melissa Baker of the University of Massachusetts, and Kiran Karande of Old Dominion University determined that customers make positive or negative personality attributions based upon employees’ physical appearances, including facial hair (or lack thereof) and other features:

CQ_v53n3_72ppiRGB_150pixWThis study applies an attribution model to demonstrate the effects of facial characteristics such as a beard, a smile, and attractiveness on the assurance perceived by the customer. The study found that an attractive demeanor appeared to increase the guest’s confidence that the service provider can provide a knowledgeable and courteous exchange. This fills a gap found in past studies that have found that consumers often prefer to interact with attractive providers, but did not establish the reasons for such a finding. This research also contributes to existing knowledge by replicating these findings for African-American and Caucasian hotel workers, which increases the generalizability of the findings and is especially important for the hospitality industry, with its diversity of ethnicities and races.

Click here to continue reading “The Frontline Provider’s Appearance: A Driver of Guest Perceptions,” forthcoming in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

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