:: Professors find correlation between grooming and earnings
Tina Das and Steve DeLoach, both associate professors of economics, have conducted a study detailing the correlation between the amount of time people spend grooming each day and the wages that they earn.
They found that the amount of time people spend showering, shaving, styling their hair or choosing their outfit is positively related to the amount of money they receive on payday.
“On average, workers who spend more time grooming earn higher wages,” DeLoach said. “And it appears that the effect is really only statistically significant for men, not women.”
While there is no set amount of time that people should spend grooming to be guaranteed higher wages, Das and DeLoach’s research shows that a man who spends about twice as much time grooming each day may earn about 5 percent more.
Das and DeLoach used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey for their study. The survey has information on the wages, education, jobs, age, race and gender of 13,000 workers.
“The survey is a unique data set because they take these people and ask them to keep a detailed diary of their activities during one 24-hour period,” DeLoach said. “So, we know how much time they spent bathing, eating, driving to work, etc.”
Das and DeLoach were inspired by a study at the University of Texas that found that more attractive professors got more positive evaluations from students.
“This started a lot of lunchtime conversation around the department about the role of appearance, and specifically how much control workers have over it,” Das said. “So, Steve and I were excited when we noticed this survey that kept track of the time people spend grooming.”
Das and DeLoach’s research indicates that one reason employers might focus on a worker’s outward appearance is because it tells them something about that worker’s organization or dedication.
“There is reason to believe that grooming habits are more of a reflection of one’s individual values and personality characteristics,” DeLoach said.
“For example, maybe conscientious, detail-oriented people are likely to spend more time grooming than their peers. If that is the case, then one’s grooming acts as a signal of productive and desirable, but otherwise unobservable, traits in workers,” he said.
Das and DeLoach made this correlation after consulting some psychology literature on personality traits given to them by Maurice Levesque, associate professor of psychology.
Anne Bolin, professor of anthropology, also referred them to research on the cultural significance of grooming behavior.
Das and DeLoach will present their research paper, “Mirror, mirror on the wall: The effect of time spent grooming on wages,” at the Southern Economic Association’s yearly conference Nov. 19 through 21.
“This is a working paper and we are still testing the robustness of our results, but we think they are strong,” DeLoach said.
“This project was funded by the university as part of Tina Das’ sabbatical last spring,” DeLoach said. “Without this time, and the help of our great colleagues, our research could not be as good as it is.”
Reporter: Alexa Milan - 11/07/07