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Unattractive people more likely to be bullied at work

Colleagues may be just as harsh when it comes to bullying as high school students.

By Kim Anne Jul 19, 2013 6:33PM

Distraught woman sitting at her desk.Many adults couldn’t wait to get out of high school to get away from all that petty, immature behavior and those ridiculous cliques. But now that we’re adults, it may not actually be any better.

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According to Science Daily, a new study finds that work colleagues may be just as harsh when it comes to bullying as high school students.

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The "Beauty, Personality, and Affect as Antecedents of Counterproductive Work Behavior Receipt" study, conducted by Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, and Brent Scott, from Michigan State University, links unattractiveness to cruel behavior in the office.

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The findings were quite shocking, confirming that physical attractiveness has a direct impact on how people treat their coworkers. "Our research is novel because it focuses on how coworkers treat attractive and unattractive colleagues," says Judge. "We find that unattractive individuals are more likely the subject of rude, uncivil and even cruel treatment by their coworkers. And, not only do we, as a society, perceive attractive and unattractive coworkers differently, we act on those perceptions in ways that are hurtful." And that’s not all. "Given that physical attractiveness is not a bona fide occupational qualification for most jobs, our new findings are problematic for society," Judge says. "Worse, research reliably shows that we're more influenced by attractiveness than we are willing to admit."

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But the most troubling part about it is there really isn’t an easy solution. But Judge says society can start with acknowledgement. "Awareness is surely one important step," Judge says. "If we recognize our biases and are more open and honest about their pervasiveness, we'll be in much better shape to combat the influence."

Tell us: Do you know people who are bullied at work?

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337Comments
Jul 27, 2013 9:20PM
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In any endeavor where original work and thought are important those who produce ideas and implement them are usually rare and are piled onto by the mass of deadwood which surrounds them...  Harry, that means you.
Jul 27, 2013 1:14AM
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ross perot, mark zuckerburg, bill gates, ron paul...hum. those 'lookers' have done pretty well in life.
Jul 27, 2013 1:12AM
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hum...every place i've ever worked most everyone-except myself-was unattractive.
Jul 25, 2013 9:47PM
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Makes complete sense, and I see it all the time.  Older folks really get it as well, especially these days.  The 40-60 age group has really been kicked to the curb by employers, both public and private. Recession layoffs, bank bailouts an lose the 401K, then they try to head back to start over, and its awful there--bullies, and discrimination.  No wonder public assistance is rising.  Some probably throw their hands up.
Jul 25, 2013 4:16AM
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I've found that cliques tend to form in badly managed, overworked, under staffed, competitive, unrealistic expectation work places managed by incompetent or bully bosses. It becomes a game of survival or die. They tend to bring in those individuals or support members of an office that can further their cause or help them manage their work load.  The bullied co-workers are then ignored, ostracized, tattled on or openly ridiculed to give the leaders in the clique power and the boss someone to pick on. Their common goal is to keep the boss off their back and simply get their work done. Again this is survival and not working together for a common goal. The targeted for bullying employees are typically seen as a threat to the clique and the manager because they are typically high achievers.  The result of this dysfunction is a high turnover rate. I worked in a place where the manager had a 25-50% turn over year over year and upper management must have never questioned this persons performance. After 13 years they are still there!  Revenues  plummeted more than 50-60% were never fully recovered each time this individual ran someone off or fired one of the highest producing sales persons.  It was always the highest producer that ran screaming from the building.  It didn't matter what you looked like.

Jul 25, 2013 12:21AM
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I totally disagree !  I have seen petty jealousy cause "attractive" people to be the target of bullying frequently !  People get bullied for different reasons, not just because of their looks.....young naive people, older people, mentally ill, new hires, anyone who seems different & probably most of all, the bully's own insecurities or learned behavior.
Jul 24, 2013 11:40PM
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I'm trying to think of anyone at work who is attractive...  hmm... that would be funny - all of us and each of us bullying each other because we are unattractive.  So nobody would NOT be bullied.   Should we go to HR?  No, because HR is being bullied for being unattractive.  What a predicament!
Jul 24, 2013 11:10PM
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In the world of animals  as we are,  the runt is less likely to breed so  any abnormality  will be, eliminated to ensure survival of the best example of the breed Are we just  following course???
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