It’s like one of those things Alanis Morissette sang about in that song: There’s rain on your wedding day, there’s good advice that you don’t take, and there’s that moment when you’re at the drugstore buying something embarrassing — like, I don’t know, constipation medicine — and you end up with the hot cashier. Yes, I know, not ironic, but still pretty terrible. In fact, in a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that having a good-looking salesperson around can actually dissuade shoppers from buying embarrassing products.
The finding is an exception to the rule, borne out in a handful of other studies, that attractive employees can actually help a store’s business. In a 1996 study in the International Journal of Research in Marketing, for example, participants watched a series of TV advertisements and then rated how likely they were to buy whatever was being sold in each one. Overall, the more attractive the salesperson in the ad, the more people said they’d be interested in buying the product or service. And a separate study, from 2008, found that people perceive an item as more desirable if they’ve seen an attractive person touch it.