London - Is it possible to tell the difference between a fat cat and someone whose pockets aren’t quite as deep?
Women can do it within seconds – with just a quick glance at a man’s face.
Researchers found they were able to accurately gauge a man’s income based on his looks after three seconds.
The reason may be down to the fact that wealthier men have healthier lifestyles and diets. This may give them a better skin tone or a certain "look" in the eyes.
"We found that people are able to detect a person’s mate value through his or her face," said South Korean researchers who carried out the study.
"Among men, facial attractiveness significantly predicted their household income... it has been suggested that developmental stability associated with social class can be conveyed by facial features.
"It appears that perceivers catch this association more easily when observing men’s than women’s faces."
They added that "sex-specific markers of mate value are implicitly ingrained in attractive facial features".
Female participants were presented with 152 pictures of men and asked to rate their attractiveness levels.
The study, carried out by Seoul National University and Yonsei University, was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences
The findings add weight to the so-called "beauty premium" – the idea that attractive people are more likely to command higher salaries.
Many previous studies have concluded that attractive people benefit from workplace discrimination in their favour. US researchers found that job applicants with facial blemishes and "disfigurements" – such as birthmarks and scars – were more likely to be rated poorly by an interviewer.
But a study last year bucked the trend after finding that attractive people don’t necessarily earn more than their less alluring peers.
Researchers from the London School Of Economics and the University Of Massachusetts – who tracked the earnings of around 20 000 participants over a 14-year period – found that ‘very unattractive’ employees had bigger earnings than those deemed unattractive, and sometimes more than people rated as average-looking or attractive.