There are plenty of useful articles describing ways to succeed in crowdfunding. So many tips, suggestions and approaches! However, we all seem to forget about one rule, apparently the most helpful here: attractive people are usually perceived as more trustworthy and reliable than those of the average or less attractive appearance. It is our subconscious prejudice which is utilized so successfully in the world of marketing. In childhood, we were taught that ugly people are bad and those beautiful are good. Not to blame the fairy tales, it is in our nature – we prefer nice pictures.
Is it possible that even business matters are controlled by such biases?
Yes, it is. Let us start with a charity example. Nichola Raihani (University College London) and Sarah Smith (the University of Bristol) carried out an experiment which was to check whether people’s attractiveness would help them raise more funds during London Virgin Marathon. Each marathoner had a page where potential donors could write their names and the amount of money they offer. What was the result? More attractive marathoners of both sexes gained more money, but the more interesting conclusion concerned the lists of donors. It turned out, that the size of the previous donation on the list tended to shape the next donor’s decision. Men showed a typical competitive behavior on the attractive women’s list. If the previous man’s donation on the list was large, the next man proposed even more to be seen as wealthier, more generous and cooperative. The generosity was much higher in the case of the attractive women’s lists than of those less attractive. What is interesting, women did not demonstrate such behavior.
Another experiment was carried out by some researchers from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the National University of Singapore, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. They decided to check how the physical appearance affects investors’ decisions on Kiva. As in the previous example, the decisions were based on the appearance – here available on the users’ profiles. Investors, either consciously or subconsciously, tend to assess the risk basing on the borrower’s appearance, but actually, our attractiveness does not proclaim that we are more reliable. The researchers claim that too wide choice and lack of any criteria which could help make the decision, leaves the investors to the formulaic stereotypes. The biases were not influencing the choices of the most experienced investors, though.
The old stereotypes prove to be up-to-date also in the modern online world. That is a worrying trend, especially in the age of women and men equality. In fact, it says a lot about our human nature. Can we contravene our innate, natural perception of the world? We probably can, but so as to go beyond the biases we need to become aware of our inclinations and avoid judging people on their appearance. Basing our investment decisions on the physical qualities of the potential business partners is too random, thus, unreasonable and can just cost us a lot.