One major benefit of working from home during a pandemic is that our morning routines have become less complicated as that whole getting ready to see people in the outside world has been subtracted. Pants with buttons, shoes and, heck, even deodorant are all optional when you are just moving from your bed to your home office or makeshift kitchen table office. And for some women, one of the major perks has been going makeup-free most days. However, a new study may have them reconsidering putting on a bit of makeup for their next video call.
New research published in the Journal of Economic Psychology finds that wearing makeup makes them seem more trustworthy which can result in being given more money. The study was conducted by Angela Cristiane Santos Póvoa of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná in Brazil who had male and female participants participate in a trust game that specifically measured trustworthiness.
In the game, 38 women played the roles of trustees, and 304 subjects, both male and female, played the roles of trustors. Participants were participated with a photograph of a female trustee sans makeup or with makeup that was applied by a professional makeup artist. The makeup was specifically applied to “improve the participants’ facial appearances by hiding their imperfections.” Not only were the trustees with their makeup done perceived as more trustworthy but they were then given more money.
“When people engaged in visual manipulation using cosmetics, not only attractiveness perception increased but also other attributes like perceived trustworthiness, which translated into women receiving larger transfers in a trust environment. We also found that this effect is not a direct one, but one that is fully mediated by trustworthiness. This effect was particularly more pronounced among less attractive women,” the researchers wrote. The other authors include Wesley Pech, Juan José Camou Viacava, and Marcos Tadeu Schwartz.
What is especially interesting about this study is the authors’ focus on “visual manipulation” considering that the majority of our professional contact right now and for the foreseeable future (as remote work will become the dominating norm) will be conducted through screens and mediums that can be manipulated like filters.
“Perceived trustworthiness is, therefore, something that people can, to some extent, potentially manipulate strategically by using visual resources like cosmetics, photo´s filter (e.g. Instagram filters), etc. These resources might not only generate intrapersonal benefits, such as an increase in self-confidence, but it might also increase efficiency in interpersonal interactions that require cooperation, coordination, and trust.”
These results fall in line with another recent study on makeup that found women perceive other women to be less trustworthy if they wear too much makeup. From the study’s abstract: “Because the benefits of beauty are rewarded based on superficial qualities rather than on merit or performance, women may perceive same-sex others who use appearance enhancement to gain advantages as being dishonest or manipulative.”
Danielle DelPriore of the University of Utah and Hannah Bradshaw and Sarah Hill from Texas Christian University had 120 heterosexual women read a short story about a young woman who is preparing for a job interview with a male manager. Half of the participants read a version of the story in which the woman, Melissa, wore makeup to her interview. The other half read one in which Melissa didn’t wear any makeup.
The makeup group found Melissa to be “fake, manipulative, selfish, and trying to get ahead at all costs” on a seven-point rating scale, but this was only half a point more than the other group rated her.
However, it should be noted that Ladders is not encouraging women to wear makeup if they don’t want to. Some women actually feel more confident not wearing makeup. It should also be reported if your boss or coworkers suggest that you wear makeup at work. “Criticism over our appearance when we’re juggling so much can affect morale in any team member, but women are at the receiving end of this type of criticism in a disproportionate way — pandemic or no pandemic,” Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University, told Refinery 29. “Focusing on appearance beyond professional attire can create a toxic environment that will stunt the growth of team members and add an obstacle to what they can contribute to a company.”