Study: Better looking high schoolers get better grades

Good looks will get you further in high school than you might think.

According to an analysis published this week based on a national survey of nearly 9,000 high school students, attractiveness translates to better grades.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a nationally representative sample of adolescents that launched during the 1994 to 1995 school year and has followed individuals periodically into their 20s and 30s.

Interviewers conducting the survey first rated students' attractiveness. The researchers then obtained data on grade point averages for the analysis.

Does this study favor one sex over the other?

For both girls and boys, being rated as attractive rather than average in looks — what Gordon calls "standing out from the crowd" — is most important for adolescents, said Rachel Gordon of the University of Illinois-Chicago.

"But these advantages differ for men and women," Caroline Heldman, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles who studies gender issues and is familiar with the study, told USA Today .

"Attractive women will get a benefit overall in occupations, but when you're talking about leadership positions, being sexually attractive actually works against you," Heldman added.

The new study does find some disadvantages associated with being attractive, such as being more likely to date, have sexual partners and drink heavily, says USA Today.

On the opposite side, those rated below average in looks in high school didn't suffer an overall disadvantage in terms of grades. But the study said that those rated by others as "being on the ugly side of looks" are more prone to suffer from depression and have fewer friends than those average in looks.

Findings appear in Physical Attractiveness and the Accumulation of Social and Human Capital in Adolescence and Young Adulthood, which is set to publish online Friday.

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