A fascinating (if frightening) study by the University of New South Wales has put a price on attractiveness.

In the past managers would hire attractive salespeople just to get customers in the door. But not only do they do this but, as the study finds, attractive people manage to negotiate hgher prices than their less attractive counterparts.

University of New south Wales senior lecturer in Banking and Finance, Robert Tumarkin, wondered why real estate agents had pictures of themselves on their property sale posters. In some cases, the photo of the salesperson dwarfed the photos of the property. He wondered why this was so.

Tumarkin’s researched focused on how attractiveness influences the price we are willing to pay for goods, and the results are startling. He found consumers were prepared to pay an extra 2.3 per cent per on a given price per each standard deviation of attractiveness.

So a salesperson two standard deviations above average attractiveness could expect to earn 4.6 per cent more per sale. This is a difference of $36,800 on an $800,000 property!

Curiously, however, the salesperson’s attractiveness isn’t correlated with the psychology of desire. Rather, the attractiveness of the salesperson is associated with the value of the entire sales process.

“It’s known as the halo effect,” said Mr Tumarkin. “It’s where a person’s overall impression of something affects their evaluation of its individual aspects. We argue that the degree of attractiveness of an estate agent spills over into the property they are selling, making it more attractive in the mind of the buyers.”

As consumers we are riddled with biases. It’s just part of being human. All you can do is be aware of them and do your best to fight them.

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