Effects of physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming on academic performance in high school

Michael T. French, Philip K. Robins, Jenny F. Homer, Lauren M. Tapsell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we investigate whether certain aspects of personal appearance (i.e., physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming) affect a student's cumulative grade point average (GPA) in high school. When physical attractiveness is entered into the model as the only measure of personal appearance (as has been done in previous studies), it has a positive and statistically significant impact on GPA for female students and a positive yet not statistically significant effect for male students. Including personality and grooming, the effect of physical attractiveness turns negative for both groups, but is only statistically significant for males. For male and female students, being very well groomed is associated with a statistically significant GPA premium. While grooming has the largest effect on GPA for male students, having a very attractive personality is most important for female students. Numerous sensitivity analyses support the core results for grooming and personality. Possible explanations for these findings include teacher discrimination, differences in student objectives, and rational resource allocation decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-382
Number of pages10
JournalLabour Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Adolescents
  • Grooming
  • High school grades
  • Personality
  • Physical attractiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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