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Evaluations Of Social Desirability Essay Research Paper

Evaluations Of Social Desirability Essay, Research Paper Running head: Evaluations of Age, Attractiveness and Social Desirability A Review of “The Effects of Women’s Age

Evaluations Of Social Desirability Essay, Research Paper

Running head: Evaluations of Age, Attractiveness and Social Desirability

A Review of “The Effects of Women’s Age

and Physical Appearance on Evaluations

of Attractiveness and Social Desirability”

Without question, the concepts of attractiveness and age are both important considerations to many individuals within Western culture. Age itself, is often viewed as a component of physical attractiveness. Arthur H. Perlini, Susan Bertolissi and David L. Lind performed an interesting study that incorporates the well-recognized factors of age and attractiveness. Moreover, the study used these two factors as variables, and evaluated if their absence or presence effected the way an individual was perceived by others. Specifically, the researchers studied if a person’s attractiveness and age have an effected whether or not others perceived them as being socially desirable.

The participants in the study consisted of two groups, a younger group and an older group. Both groups of participants were used as judges in evaluating photographs on several different topics. The older participants, or judges in this case consisted of a panel of 40 women and 40 men, ranging from sixty to eighty-five years old. The younger group of judges consisted of 40 women and 40 men, ranging from eighteen to thirty years of age. The older sample of mentally healthy individuals was selected from local senior citizen residencies. The younger sample of judges was recruited from an introductory psychology participant pool at Algoma University College.

The study itself was performed in an interesting way, in an attempt to limit confounding variables. The experimenters selected three photos of attractive younger models, and three photos of attractive older models from several magazines. The photo’s used in the study were only of females, because of the high regard for female attractiveness in Western culture. The photos that were selected were of models that were not well known, and the photos of the models were clipped above their shoulders. The reasons for this was to limit bias, based on the participants possibly knowing the personality of the model, and not have the model’s clothing have any influence on their judgments. From the participants, a total of twelve male and female participants, six younger and six older each privately ranked the two sets of photos selected in their level of attractiveness only. The photos with the highest rankings from each group of three were selected for the actual experiment. Therefore, based on the panel’s unanimous rankings, two photos were selected, one being an attractive older model and one an attractive younger model.

The experimenters used a fascinating method to obtain photos of unattractive older and younger individuals, as a comparison for the attractive photos. The experimenters used a computer program, which used the two photos selected for the experiment, to create unattractive versions of the models. Manipulating the photos in three ways achieved this; firstly, enlarging the noses, arranging the eyes closer together, and by making the lips appear thinner. The basis of the manipulation of these specific facial features, were based on an experiment performed by Cunningham in 1986. The created photos for the unattractive comparison of each attractive photo were realistic, and were confirmed by a second sample of judges.

The use of the computerized comparison of the attractive photos was an interesting way to try to limit bias. Another interesting factor to examine was the way the study was administered to the participants. The participants were told that the purpose of the experiment was to test the accuracy of impressions and perceptions based on visual cues. The participants looked at a series of photographs, not just the four that were the center of focus. Moreover, they were not just asked to evaluate social desirability alone, they were asked to evaluate many other factors as well.

The participants were randomly placed in four different groups: younger and attractive, younger and unattractive, older and attractive, and older and unattractive. Within the older and younger judges, ten individuals were placed in each group, with an equal number of males and females. The participants were asked to rate the photos on thirty-eight different traits ranging from one to seven. Of the thirty-eight traits used in the study, twenty-eight were from a study performed by, Dion in 1972. The remaining ten traits were selected from a study performed by in Braithwaite, Gibson, and Holman in 1985-1986. The traits that were selected for evaluation were listed on one side of the questionnaire, and the opposite of that trait was listed on the other side of the scale. Examples of traits evaluated include: boring-interesting, sociable-unsociable, happy-sad, loving-unloving, and humorous-not humorous. Among the list of traits, physical attractiveness was also a question that was placed in the middle of the questionnaire.

Based on the responses of the participants rating of traits of the four photographs of study, several conclusions were drawn about the issues of attractiveness, age, and social desirability. The results concluded that younger and older judges all exhibited a bias based on attractiveness in reference to social desirability. In other words, all of the participants rated the photos of the younger and older attractive models as being more socially desirable than the unattractive constructed photos of them.

Interestingly, based on the responses of the younger judges, it was found that there was no difference in the ratings of social desirability between the younger and older attractive models. However, among the older male participants it was concluded that the younger and attractive photo was regarded as more socially desirable than the older attractive photograph. Thus concluding that, all the young participants did not make judgments of social desirability on the basis of age with the attractive model photographs, however the older male judges did.

Another important finding was established in this study in regard to age and social desirability among the unattractive photographs. It was found that among the unattractive photos, the younger photograph was viewed as less socially desirable than older computerized photograph. Interestingly, both of the photos were both rated the same in their unattractiveness, but their age was the factor that differentiated the judges’ views on social desirability. The researchers stated that a possible explanation for this finding is that past research it has been found that being youthful is considered a component of physical attractiveness. Therefore, when one encounters a younger person who is unattractive it may not confirm their expectations that youth is a part of attractiveness. Therefore, viewing a younger and unattractive individual was regarded as being the least socially desirable.

This study was overall was very interesting, and yielded conclusions that are helpful in understanding the way individuals in Western society make inferences about others. The information is useful and it adds to our understanding of the ways in which individuals make first impressions. It is fascinating that individuals made such different judgments on how socially desirable one was based on photographs.

This study was based on the photographs only of women, both attractive and unattractive, and only used individuals from Western society as judges. It would be interesting to replicate the study similarly, but including photographs of men, and incorporating judges from other cultures. It would be useful to see if individuals evaluate men and women differently in regard to their attractiveness and age, in relation to their perceived social desirability. Furthermore, it would also be worth studying if there are differences among various cultures in the way they perceive one to be socially desirable based on the variables of attractiveness and age. Overall, the study did provide useful information, and also opened interest for further study.

References

Bertolissi, Susan, Lind, David L., Perlini, Arthur H. (1999). The effects of

women’s age and physical appearance on evaluations of attractiveness and social desirability. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 343-354.

Braithwaite, V. A., Gibson, D., & Holman, J. (1985-1986). Age stereotyping: Are

we oversimplifying the phenomenon? International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 22, 315-325.

Cunningham, M. R. (1986). Measuring the physical in physical attractiveness:

Quasi-experiments on the sociobiology of female facial beauty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 925-935.

Dion, K. K. (1972). Physical attractiveness and the evaluations of children’s

transgressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 207-213.

Bibliography

References

Bertolissi, Susan, Lind, David L., Perlini, Arthur H. (1999). The effects of

women’s age and physical appearance on evaluations of attractiveness and social desirability. The Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 343-354.

Braithwaite, V. A., Gibson, D., & Holman, J. (1985-1986). Age stereotyping: Are

we oversimplifying the phenomenon? International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 22, 315-325.

Cunningham, M. R. (1986). Measuring the physical in physical attractiveness:

Quasi-experiments on the sociobiology of female facial beauty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 925-935.

Dion, K. K. (1972). Physical attractiveness and the evaluations of children’s

transgressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 207-213.

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