A riveting new study out of Michigan State University has put science behind what disgruntled adolescents everywhere have known for years: If you're not doing well at work, if your boss doesn't like you, if the copy machine keeps breaking every time you use it, it's not just bad luck and you're not paranoid: It's probably because you're an eyesore.

The study, published in April in the journal Human Performance, examined several factors that could cause "counterproductive workplace behavior," or CWB. The paper investigates not only the extent to which not only "neuroses" and "agreeableness" contribute to a person's success in the office—but also their physical attractiveness.

In addition to personality, we examined physical attractiveness, positing that attractive employees would be less likely to elicit negative emotion in their coworkers and receive CWB than unattractive employees. Theories of social acceptance stipulate that characteristics valued by society include both communal qualities such as kindness and warmth (i.e., agreeableness) and superficial qualities such as beauty (Anthony, Holmes, & Wood, 20007). Indeed, research on bullying among school-age children has revealed that victims of bullying are more likely to perceived as physically unattractive by their peers (e.g., Sweeting & West, 2001; see also Olweus, 1978). Thus, by including personality (neuroticism and agreeableness) and appearance (physical attractiveness), our model acknowledges that in predicting the receipt of CWB, it likely is “what’s on the inside” and “what’s on the outside” that counts.

The study examined 114 full-time hospital workers who consented to have their photographs taken, whose attractiveness was then ranked by raters unknown to the workers. (So their attitudes toward the subjects were not "contaminated" on the basis of other attributes). The study posited also that the maxim, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is a crock of shit, and that "contrary to conventional wisdom, there is strong agreement both within and across cultures about who is and who is not attractive."

As predicted, the study found that while unattractive assholes were treated poorly by their co-workers, a person could get away with being kind of a dick, as long as they were good-looking.

Of interest, results also showed that physically unattractive employees were more likely to receive CWB from their coworkers, at least when age is taken into account. In other words, results of Study 2 show that for two employees of the same age, the physically attractive employee is likely to receive more favorable treatment from his or her coworkers.

Finally, in a post hoc analysis, it was revealed that physical attractiveness moderated the relationships between neuroticism, agreeableness, and CWB receipt. Although the interaction involving agreeableness was in line with what one might expect (i.e., disagreeable and unattractive employees were especially likely to receive CWB), the interaction involving neuroticism was not (i.e., emotionally stable and unattractive employees were especially likely to receive CWB).

If you're unattractive and surly, you may as well just quietly pack your things and go home. There's no place for you here. Then again, if this guy can file a lawsuit, damn it, so can you! [Via The Awl]