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Attractive female students saw their grades 'deteriorate' when classes moved online during Covid-19

Charisa Bossinakis

| Last updated 

Attractive female students saw their grades 'deteriorate' when classes moved online during Covid-19

According to a new study, the grades of attractive female students slipped during the Covid-19 pandemic when classes moved online.

Researcher Adrian Mehic gathered data from a Swedish engineering university to test his theory about whether looks helped in the classroom.

Mehic sought out 74 individuals to rate the attractiveness of 307 students' faces from one (being ‘extremely unattractive’) to 10 (being ‘extremely attractive’).

Wow. Brutal.


The findings, which were published in Economic Letters, showed that for non-quantitative courses (e.g. business and economics) that were taught primarily online, student attractiveness was reflected in student grades.

Credit:  Yuri Arcurs / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Yuri Arcurs / Alamy Stock Photo

However, this effect was not found for quantitative subjects (e.g., math, physics), as assignments and presentations encouraging student-teachers were minimal in these courses.

Mehic wrote: “This paper has shown that students’ facial attractiveness impact academic outcomes when classes are held in-person.


"As education moved online following the onset of the pandemic, the grades of attractive female students deteriorated.”

But wait, there’s a catch.

Grades for males in non-quantitative subjects weren’t affected whatsoever in courses moved online.

Mehic added that when education is ‘in-person’, females are more likely to face discrimination.


Yay, just add another feather to our cap.

“The main takeaway is that there is a beauty premium both for males and for females when teaching is on-site,” Mehic explained to PsyPost.

Credit: Roman Lacheev / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Roman Lacheev / Alamy Stock Photo

“But for females, this effect disappeared when teaching was conducted online.


"This, at least to me, suggests that the beauty premium for males is due to some productive attribute (for instance, them having higher self-confidence) rather than discrimination, whereas it is due to discrimination for women.”

While Mehic could not determine precisely why discrimination occurs, he believes in-person people might assign characteristics to attractive people they do not possess, such as ‘intelligence’.

However, he suggested that more research should be conducted to establish why this is.

His research also coincides with the 2015 report by economist Eva Sierminska, which supports the notion of the beauty premium.


The report found that people deemed ‘attractive’ are usually paid 15 per cent more than those who are less or ‘unattractive’, especially if the job requires interaction with customers or clients.

However, she found this is likely to occur mostly in men.

Sierminska said: “Our societies reward investments in physical appearance. Contrary to some expectations, men benefit more in the labour market from investing in good looks than women.”

Featured Image Credit: Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo. Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, World News, Science, Education

Charisa Bossinakis
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