Study: Attractive female students’ grades fell during online learning due to lost ‘beauty premium’

Study: Attractive female students’ grades fell during online learning due to lost ‘beauty premium’

Attractive female students saw a drop in their grades when courses were moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Swedish study.

The study, which was published in August in the journal Economic Letters, looked at how grades changed for attractive male and female students within a Swedish engineering program when the classes were remote and when they were in person. 

Attractiveness was determined by how an independent sample of 74 people rated a student’s face.

Business and economics courses saw a positive correlation between attractiveness and academic achievement when taught in person because students and teachers interacted more with projects, presentations and reports. 

Math and physics courses that were graded more by tests and quizzes did not see this correlation, the study pointed out.

When those business and economics classes moved online, female students saw their grades dip, while male students still achieved high marks.

“The main takeaway is that there is a beauty premium both for males and for females when teaching is on-site,” Adrian Mehic, a graduate student at Sweden’s Lund University and the author of the study, told the psychology news site PsyPost on Wednesday.

“But for females, this effect disappeared when teaching was conducted online,” Mr. Mehic continued. “This, at least to me, suggests that the beauty premium for males is due to some productive attribute (for instance, them having higher self-confidence) rather than discrimination, whereas it is due to discrimination for women.”

Mr. Mehic suggested that attractive men have other positive attributes — such as being more persistent and having a greater influence on their peers — which could explain their consistently high grades.

He also said attractive people generally benefit from positive assumptions, such as other people thinking they are intelligent, which can also influence their grades.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.