Beauty is in the in-group of the beholded: Intergroup differences in the perceived attractiveness of leaders

Kevin M. Kniffin, Brian Wansink, Vladas Griskevicius, David Sloan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Physical attractiveness is most commonly presumed to be an exogenous characteristic that influences people's feelings, perceptions, and behavior across myriad types of relationships. We investigate the opposite prediction in which feelings toward other people influence the perceptions of others' attractiveness. Focusing specifically on subordinates' perceptions of leaders of in-groups and out-groups, we examine whether group membership moderates familiarity in relation to ratings of physical attractiveness. Studies 1 and 2 show that subordinates rate the leaders of their in-groups as significantly more physically attractive than comparably familiar out-group leaders. Our findings have relevance for understanding the interactive roles of physical attractiveness within contemporary organizational environments and help to account for variance in interpersonal perceptions on the basis of group membership. In contrast with research traditions that treat physical attractiveness as a static trait, our findings highlight the importance of group membership as a lens for perceiving familiar leaders' physical attractiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1143-1153
Number of pages11
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014.


  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Familiarity
  • Followership
  • Leadership
  • Physical attractiveness


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