Skip to main content

Resume evaluations and cosmetics use: When more is not better


Physical appearance is an integral component of self-presentation in all social situations, including that of applying for a job. This project investigated the relationship between employment evaluations of women and one aspect of their appearance under the individual's control—the use of varying degrees of cosmetics. Cosmetics use was found to be positively correlated with perceived attractiveness, femininity, and sexiness. Based on resume evaluations, however, cosmetics use had a negative effect on the expected performance of female applicants for a gender-typed (secretary) position, but no effect on the expected performance of female applicants for a nongender-typed (accountant) position. Makeup thus appears to strengthen sex role stereotypes associated with traditionally feminine jobs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Beehr, T., & Gilmore, D. Applicant attractiveness as a perceived job-relevant variable in selection of management trainees. Academy of Management Journal, 1982, 25, 607–617.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bersheid, E., & Walster, E. Physical attractiveness. In Berkowitz, L. (ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 7. New York: Academic Press, 1974.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Boor, M., Wartman, S., & Reuben, D. Relationship of physical appearance and professional demeanor to interview evaluations and rankings of medical residency applicants. Journal of Psychology, 1983, 113, 61–65.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Cash, T., Gillen, B., & Burns, D. Sexism and “beautyism” in personnel consultant decision making. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1977, 62, 301–310.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1972, 24, 285–290.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Dipboye, R., Arvey, R., & Terpstra, D. Sex and physical attractiveness of raters and applicants as determinants of resume evaluations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1977, 62, 288–294.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Dipboye, R., Fromkin, N., & Wiback, K. Relative importance of applicant sex, attractiveness and scholastic standing in evaluation of job applicant resumes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1975, 60, 39–43.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Heilman, M., & Saruwatari, L. When beauty is beastly: The effects of appearance and sex on evaluations of job applicants. Organizational behavior and Human Performance, 1979, 23, 360–372.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Heilman, M. E., & Stopeck, M. H. Attractiveness and corporate success: Different causal attributions for males and females. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1985, 70, 379–388.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Kanter, R. Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books, 1977.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Miller, A. Role of physical attractiveness in impression formation. Psychonomic Science, 1970, 19, 241–243.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Ross, J., & Ferris, K. Interpersonal attraction and organizational outcomes: A field examination. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1981, 26, 617–632.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Shrout, P. E., & Fleiss, J. L. Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing rater reliability. Psychological Bulletin, 1979, 86, 420–428.

    Google Scholar 

  14. von Baeyer, C., Sherk, D., & Zanna, M. Impression management in the job interview: When the female applicant meets the male (chauvinist) interviewer. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 1981, 7, 45–51.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Additional information

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Merle Norman Cosmetics and John B. Wheat, photographer, for their assistance in preparing the stimulus pictures. Partial support for writing this paper was provided by a Spurgeon Bell Fellowship to the second author. A previous version of this paper was presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, August 1983.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cox, C.L., Glick, W.H. Resume evaluations and cosmetics use: When more is not better. Sex Roles 14, 51–58 (1986).

Download citation


  • Social Psychology
  • Social Situation
  • Physical Appearance
  • Employment Evaluation
  • Integral Component