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So what makes someone beautiful? Is averageness attractive? Rhodes and Tremewan (1996) conducted a study investigating averageness on attractiveness using a computerized generator to vary averageness. Their results indicate that averageness is attractive. Increasing the averageness of faces (anticaricaturing) and decreasing averageness (caricature) reduced attractiveness. Attractiveness and distinctiveness were negatively correlated. The less distinctive a face was, the more attractive it was. Attractiveness and distinctiveness were negatively correlated. Attractiveness increased when averageness was increased (anticaricaturing) and decreased when averageness was reduced (caricaturing). Most composites were low in distinctiveness (both average and attractive). The negative correlations between attractiveness and distinctiveness support the hypothesis that averageness is attractive.
Does physical attractiveness indicate that someone is healthy? Some people view facial attractiveness as signaling good health. Tracing back to the evolutionary findings of Darwin (1859, 1871, as cited in Kalick et al., 1998) it has been said that animals often have an appearance that can actually hinder their chance of survival. For example, when female birds look for a mate, they look for the attractive brightly colored male.
It has long been thought, “what is beautiful is good” (Dion, Berscheid, and Walster, 1972). Some attractive people are seen as being intelligent, better parents, better mates They are expected to lead happier, more successful lives with a number of different life experiences. They may have happier marital, professional, parental, and overall total happiness. Sometimes they are seen as more sincere, noble, respected, and honest than unattractive persons. So, if the attractive person is treated as a virtuous person will he become one? In our democracy, we like to see that a person can accomplish almost anything with hard work and a good deal of motivation. However, hard work does not make a person beautiful.
Many studies have been conducted concerning physical attractiveness and employment (Abramowitz & O’Grady, 1991; Bardack & McAndrew, 1985; Marlowe, Schneider, & Nelson, 1996). Abramowitz and O’Grady were interested to see if intelligence and gender, as well as physical attractiveness, played a role in hiring decisions for peer counseling positions. They found differences in both gender and attractiveness depending on the intelligence of the applicant. They found that when an applicant had low intelligence, low attractiveness was a liability for men and an asset for women. Highly attractive women of lower intelligence seemed to fit into a stereotypical role that suffered from a negative bias that men with the same characteristics did not. However, overall, men were viewed less positively than women, especially when they were of both low intelligence and attractiveness.
Bardack and McAndrew (1985) presented an experiment to college students to determine what happens when the appropriateness or attractiveness of clothing conflicts with other aspects of physical attractiveness. It was found in this experiment that both physical attractiveness and appropriateness of dress influenced the hiring decision. Physical attractiveness was even found to influence the decision the most. Remarkably, the inappropriately dressed attractive stimulus was chosen over the appropriately dressed unattractive stimulus.
Marlowe, Schneider, and Nelson (1996) thought male applicants would be judged more suitable for hire and promotion than equally qualified female applicants, and that more attractive candidates would be judged more suitable than those who were equally qualified but less attractive. They found that 4% of the variance in the selection decision was accounted for by gender. Experience and education were more important. Men were hired over women and more likely to advance to an executive position. More attractive candidates were chosen over marginally attractive candidates. The biases decrease as managerial experience increase. Marginally attractive females had the biggest disadvantage. Applicants with above average attractiveness have an advantage over the others. The first-line supervisors make the initial accept or reject decisions. When applicants have the same experience, gender and attractiveness make the decision.
We were interested to see if physical attractiveness, the sex of the applicant, as well as the sex of the subject increases the likelihood of being hired? In our study, we hoped to find that physical attractiveness would have a positive impact on the likelihood of obtaining employment.
We enlisted the voluntary participation of 152 Missouri Western State College students enrolled in introductory psychology classes during their regularly scheduled class times. Additionally we enlisted the voluntary effort of 14 upper-level experimental psychology lab students at Missouri Western State College.
A one-page typed resume (see Appendix A) was distributed to each student. All resumes were identical with the exception of an accompanying photograph. The photographs were of a physically attractive male, a physically unattractive male, a physically attractive female, or a physically unattractive female (see Appendix B).
We presented to each participant a typed instruction sheet with a short list of questions attached (see Appendix C). To obtain the before mentioned pictures we selected 10 male and 10 female pictures from a yearbook and presented them to 14 students of the Missouri Western State College experimental psychology class. Additional materials we used included an overhead projector, a screen to project each picture for viewing, and a paper and pencil scale for each student to use to evaluate the attractiveness of each picture (see Appendix D).
We began our experiment by randomly collecting 10 male and 10 female yearbook photographs. Each photograph was presented to 14 students in the Missouri Western State College experimental class. The photographs were projected individually onto a screen using an overhead projector. Each student was asked to score the attractiveness of each picture, using a paper and pencil scale. After collecting this data, we selected the highest rated person from each of our four categories: physically attractive male, physically unattractive male, physically attractive female, and physically unattractive female.
Next, we randomly attached the four selected photographs to 200 resumes. We then presented our research test to our selected participants. We explained to our participants that we were obtaining information from them for our research project. We then distributed to each participant a resume with an attached picture, and a separate sheet of paper, which contained the instructions for the participant along with a short questionnaire. We then instructed each participant to read through the resume, complete the questionnaire, and pass them to the end of their row. When all of the questionnaires had been completed and collected, we thanked the participants for their cooperation and exited the classroom.
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