I was really surprised by the results.
From the abstract:
“In two studies, we asked viewers to rate the same female faces with or without color cosmetics, and we varied the style of makeup from minimal (natural), to moderate (professional), to dramatic (glamorous)…The results suggest that cosmetics can create supernormal facial stimuli, and that one way they may do so is by exaggerating cues to sexual dimorphism. Our results provide evidence that judgments of facial trustworthiness and attractiveness are at least partially separable, that beauty has a significant positive effect on judgment of competence…” Source: Etcoff, et. al. PLoS ONE 2011.
Here’s an image from the first figure of the paper:
In my workplace- a biotech company- I would say that most of the women I encounter are either without makeup or with ‘natural’ makeup at most. If someone shows up at work with ‘professional’ or ‘glamorous’ makeup on, it would prompt questions about what the occasion was that had them so done up.
I myself wear ‘natural’ makeup pretty much everyday, and definitely every work day. I used to wear no makeup at all, but in grad school, thanks to lack of sleep, and perhaps age, it got to the point that I was always looking tired. Some concealer, nude shadow, and mascara go a long way to hiding my lack of sleep. I wear it not to look more competent, but to feel more comfortable, hoping that I don’t look as exhausted as I feel.
I was surprised that beauty in this study correlated with competence. I wonder if competence really encompassed what the subjects were perceiving.
I know for me, make-up doesn’t scream competence- perhaps ‘put together,’ as in a woman who has time to spend time on her appearance before coming to work. Maybe ‘well-rested,’ as in a woman who wasn’t up all night with a cranky toddler. Perhaps even ‘lucky,’ as in a woman who is naturally pretty.
Do you think makeup changes how competent the women in the image appear? Do you wear makeup to work? If so, what category do you fall into- natural, moderate, or dramatic? Why do you wear it- to appear more competent?