The Faces of Success: Beauty and Ugliness Premiums in Online Platforms

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paperpeer-review


Previous studies of beauty demonstrate many positive biases directed toward attractive people. In contrast, our research of online profile pictures suggests both a beauty and ugliness premium in e-commerce platforms. Using large datasets of profile pictures from two different platforms, we examine the effect of facial attractiveness of online sellers on product sales and find that both very attractive and very unattractive people sell significantly more than the average-looking ones. We conduct an online experiment to explore the underlying mechanism and find that attractive faces lead to greater credibility due to their perceived social competence while unattractive ones are considered more believable based on their intellectual competence. These findings highlight the informational value and influence of facial appearance in online platforms and have significant implications for e-commerce and marketing strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2018
Event第十五届中国营销科学学术年会暨博士生论坛 : 15th Annual Conference of JMS China Marketing Science - 深圳大学, 深圳, China
Duration: 26 Oct 201828 Oct 2018


Conference第十五届中国营销科学学术年会暨博士生论坛 : 15th Annual Conference of JMS China Marketing Science
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Bibliographical note

Best Paper Award. Published as proceedings (On-line version), publisher: Annual Conference of China Marketing Science, page: 1-20.


  • Facial attractiveness; impression formation; source credibility; electronic market


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