SOMA (The social mechanisms behind the economic consequences of physical appearance) is a research project funded by the Academy of Finland (2019–2023). The project examines the social mechanisms behind the economic consequences of physical appearance. While former research has mainly highlighted the benefits of beauty, recent evidence suggests there are more complex social mechanisms behind the economic outcomes of physical appearance.

SOMA project aims at giving a more nuanced explanation of the relation of physical appearance and its economic outcomes. Physical appearance is not only accounted for as attractiveness but also in relation to occupation-specific norms, which we refer to as field-congruent appearance. The outcomes of physical appearance are examined separately for men and women and by taking the gender segregation of occupational fields into account.

The data consist of public image data, ratings of the image data and experimental vignette study data. The image data include images of thousands of Finns with information of their occupations. The images are rated by nationally representative panels. To examine the economic outcomes of field-congruent appearance, we use social quasi-experiments with nationally representative survey in Finland.

The project aims at exploring a new social mechanism that could explain the economic perks and penalties of physical appearance better than previous theories.