Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 12, pp 3159–3168 | Cite as

Rational civil servant interviewers: evidence from an event-related potential study of beauty premiums in Chinese civil servant interviews

  • Bonai Fan
  • Menglin Zhao
  • Jia JinEmail author
  • Hao Ding
  • Qingguo Ma
Research Article


Physical attractiveness can greatly influence business job applications (the “beauty premium” effect). However, little is known about whether and how physical attractiveness influences interviewers’ evaluations of Chinese civil servant applicants, given that many characteristics of civil service appear to be different from those of business jobs. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), the current study investigated how female job candidates’ physical attractiveness influenced interviewers’ evaluations in Chinese civil servant interviews for both technical and managerial positions. The behavioral results showed that for the managerial positions, attractive female candidates had a much higher acceptance rate than unattractive candidates. However, for the technical positions, no significant difference was found between attractive and unattractive candidates. At the brain level, for the managerial positions, pairs of attractive faces with managerial posts elicited smaller N400 and larger late positive potential (LPP) amplitudes than did pairs of unattractive faces with managerial posts. However, this relationship was not observed for technical posts. The negative correlation between N400 amplitude and acceptance rate as well as the positive correlation between LPP amplitude and acceptance rate further confirmed these results. The present study suggests that beauty could potentially influence if candidates are accepted in real Chinese civil servant interviews, as observed experimentally in this research.


Beauty premium N400 LPP Event-related potentials Civil servant interview 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant numbers 71673239 and 71603139], and the K.C. Wong Magna Fund at Ningbo University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonai Fan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Menglin Zhao
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jia Jin
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Hao Ding
    • 2
    • 3
  • Qingguo Ma
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Public AffairsZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Business SchoolNingbo UniversityNingboChina
  3. 3.Academy of Neuroeconomics and NeuromanagementNingbo UniversityNingboChina

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