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The ugly face of crime

Homely teens more likely to be homies

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There might be some truth in caricatures from films such as Dick Tracy after all. Ugly teens are more likely to grow up to commit crime, according to study by a pair of US economists who tracked the life history of youngsters through to early adulthood.

"We find that unattractive individuals commit more crime in comparison to average-looking ones, and very attractive individuals commit less crime in comparison to those who are average-looking," Naci Mocan of the University of Colorado and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University conclude, as reported in The Washington Post.

The study is based on data from a federally-sponsored survey of 15,000 school kids that started in 1994, which asked youngsters to rate the attractiveness of their peers, among other things. Ten years down the line, these results were then cross-matched with criminal records. They found that attractive males were consistently less likely to go on to be convicted of crimes ranging from burglary to drug dealing. Ugly (or would that be less self-confident?) blokes were far more likely to be convicted of these crimes.

Similarly, female stunners were less likely than their plain Jane counterparts to commit crimes.

The research fails to adequately explain why convicted criminals tend to be ugly. However, separate studies suggest employers are more likely to hire attractive people and that good lookers are more successful in climbing the corporate ladder. Inferior job prospects might make it more likely for less attractive people to turn to crime, the study suggests.

Cute people also tend to do better at school and have better social skills, attributes that might sway the verdict of juries in favour of winsome defendants, it's tempting to speculate. ®

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