Whether a person is aware of it or not, everywhere they go, they are mentally judging people and creating an opinion about others without necessarily ever even meeting them. These judgments can be based off of simple appearance, or actions, or any other sort of visible aspect of a person. Simply put, humans are judgmental creatures. One of the most common aspects of a person’s life that is judged from outside appearance is wealth.
Assumedly, if a person dresses well, they must have money to buy such a wardrobe. Though this is certainly not always the case, people generally assume that what is on the outside is reflected on the inside. In this study, people’s visual interpretation of a person and the person’s assumed wealth will be examined. The participants will be shown pictures of random people of various wealth and asked to judge their monetary net worth. The variables being studied through this experiment are conceived attractiveness and monetary success.
The goal of this experiment is to find a correlation between the two. Many studies concerning this phenomenon have been performed in the past and many books on the subject of attraction have been written. The relationship between physical attractiveness and monetary worth has been an interest for scientists for many years. As long as there has been social class, people through the ages have been judging other’s wealth by their appearance, whether people have been conscious of it or not.
These studies have been important because these two variables (attractiveness and wealth) have also been linked to desire and favorability, two of the most unique and profound of human emotions, as will be discussed in the following In an experiment conducted at Georgia Southern University by researchers Dawson and McIntosh, the relationship between wealth, attractiveness, and desirability was examined (Dawson & McIntosh, 2006). Dawson and McIntosh believed that men looked for physical attractiveness in women, whereas women looked for material resources (wealth) in men.
Alternatively, the experimenters predicted that if men and women were less advantageous in these physical and monetary traits, they would compensate with other personal traits, such as personality. Participants to be judged for the experiment were randomly chosen from Yahoo Personals. Members of the opposite sex then rated the attractiveness of the participants and generated adjectives that were believed to describe the participant. For the male participants, it turned out that if they were considered less attractive or wealthy by the raters, their profile would emphasize of other positive personal characteristics.
On the other hand, for the females, there was a trending phenomenon that if a profile emphasized greatly on the woman’s physical attractiveness, it concentrated little on other personal characteristics. However, there was no relation between how physically attractive the rater found the participant and what other positive characteristics were used to describe the participant. Dawson and McIntosh (2006) believed that their hypothesis was moderately supported. The judgments that people make on a person’s physical attractiveness can influence much more than the assumed size of his or hers wallet.
These judgments can influence decisions as important as whom to vote for in government elections. This phenomenon was studied by Hart, Ottati, and Krumdick at the University of Alabama and Loyola University. They hypothesized that the more attractive a candidate was, the more memorable their campaign was (Hart, Ottati, & Krumdick, 2011). Hart et. al. (2011), explored this by showing participants photos of potential candidates (all Democrat) along with campaign policies.
The photos and information was then removed and the participants were asked to recite all the information that they could remember about each candidate and answer various questions regarding their attitudes and standpoints about the candidate and his or her campaign.
The results show that those who were considered novices on the subject matter, being those that were unable to remember the candidates’ specific campaign and policy points, seemed to favor those that they found more physically attractive. Alternatively, those that were considered experts on the campaign material seemed to favor the less attractive of the candidates (Hart et. l, 2011). One might ask, however, what exactly is it of a person physique that lead people the judge them as attractive? While most people look at a person’s overall appearance and make judgments based on that, there are much subtler cues that a person subconsciously picks up on. Each person’s tastes are unique, and different cues appeal to different people. Author Gordon L. Patzer Ph. D. described some of these cues in his book The Physical Attractiveness Phenomena (1985). Overall Patzer believed that personality was the main contributing factor. While physical first impressions are important, personality is what a person really remembers.
A good impressions is key. If a person makes a bad impression of themselves upon meeting someone, their negativity or foolishness will forever live on in he or she’s new acquaintance’s eyes. After personality, however, traits that spark attraction become much more minute and specific. First, Patzer believed that height was a key contributor. Women have a tendency to be attracted to a man taller than herself, though not towering. Men, on the other hand, are attracted to women who are shorter than himself, but not unproportionately so. Even if one does not consciously acknowledge it, they are taking note of everyone’s height that they meet.
People also take notice of someone’s facial aspects, such as shape of the jaw, hairline, etc. (Patzer, 1985). Specific combinations of all of these aspects, plus many more, determine how attractive a person finds another. Whereas none of these traits have an scientific relation to personal wealth, they do play a key role on how attractive someone is initially judged as. Whenever a person meets someone new, they subconsciously judge the stranger’s appearance and determine what level of attraction if had towards the stranger, even if there is no intent to pursue romantically.
Other assumptions then stem off of this initial judgment of attraction. One of the most common is the attempt to judge a stranger’s wealth by their appearance and personal attraction. Scientists have been exploring the relationship between attractiveness and monetary value for years. The following study attempts to spread more light on the subject. Methods This study was designed to determine the correlation between ‘attractiveness’ and perceived wealth. Variables were defined as how personally attractive the surveyors found the estranged participants pictured versus how monetarily wealthy the stranger was based on the surveyors’ attraction.
The data was collected using a Likert Scale to represent attractiveness and a scale with different levels of wealth. The results from the experiment allowed for the ratings of ‘perceived wealth’ to be compared to the rating of ‘attractiveness’ and discover if a correlation did in fact exist between the two. Based on the results of the previous study, “Attributions of physical attractiveness” (Johnson, & MacEachern, 1985) ‘attractiveness’ should influence the perception of desirable traits, such as wealth.
This may result for a multitude of reasons to be discussed in the future. Participants The participants sampled were the 10 females and 10 males pictured in the slide show. The participants varied all ages, ethnicities, and states of wealth in an attempt to make the sample’s characteristics representative of the public and mildly random. All participants were retrieved off of Google with some strategy to make sure that characteristics were varied in an attempt to be representative, making it a stratified sample.
Also participating were the surveyors who rated the sample of participants. The surveyors consisted of a cluster sample of the Flagler College PSY 253 class. The sample totaled 17: 12 females and 5 males. Considering that the sample consisted of college students, assumedly between the ages of 19 and 22, the surveyors were not necessarily representative of the public but rather of college students in general. The participating surveyors received no compensation other than class participation and attendance points, which were awarded simply for showing up to the class. Materials
For the experiment, a Powerpoint was used with 20 photos of participants, strangers to the surveyors, obtained off of Google: 10 pictures of females and 10 pictures of males, one per slide. Materials also included a paper survey handout on which the participants would record their responses. The survey consisted of two scales, one Likert scale rating attractiveness and one rating wealth. The Likert scale ran from 1-10 with one with the least attractive and ten the most and the scale for wealth ran from Poor($0-1000)-Average($1000-999,999)-Millionaire-Billionaire (See Appendix A).
The participants provided their own writing utensils (pens and pencils). Procedure All participating surveyors were given a single handout survey (See Appendix A) by the administrators and then instructed to record their gender on the handout. Each surveyors’ gender determined whether they would be in Group A (Females) or Group B (Males). Both groups were instructed that they would be shown a slide show consisting of pictures of different individuals of the opposite sex and asked to record their opinions on attractiveness and wealth on the paper survey provided for each picture shown.
Each picture was shown for approximately ten seconds and a totally of ten pictures were shown for each group. Group A was administered the survey first. The surveys were then collected by the administrators and a slideshow with ten different pictures was shown to Group B and the participants were asked to fill out the same survey as the prior group. The surveys were then collected by the administrators, concluding the experiment. Results Data was collected using a between subjects design. This experiment examined the correlation between how a person perceives attractiveness and how wealthy the person is then assumed to be.
The experiment had two variables: Variable 1, perceived attractiveness, and Variable 2, assumed wealth. Participants were administered a survey listing the two variables, Variable 1 was measured on a Likert Scale of 1-10, when Variable 2 was measured on a scale of 1 (Poor, $0=1,000), 2 (Average, $1,000-$999,999), 3 (Millionaire), and 4 (Billionaire). The mean value for Variable 1 was M=4. 12 with a standard deviation of SD=1. 13314 and the mean value for Variable 2 was M=2. 36 with a standard deviation of SD=. 33066 (refer to Table 1).
The median for Variable 2 was 3 and the mode is 2. The median and the mode for Variable 2 were both 2. The Pearson Correlation for the experiment was r=. 05 and the significance for each variable was p=. 891. This made the study’s finding significant and that there is a strong correlation between our variables. Discussion At the beginning of the experiment, it was hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between how physically attractive someone was conceived as by a stranger and how wealthy they were assumed to be, judged on their rated attractiveness.
At the end of the experiment, the results support this hypothesis. The significance of the variables was p=. 891, demonstrating that there is a high correlation between how attractive someone perceives a stranger and how wealthy the stranger is assumed to be, confirming the hypothesis. The positive correlation of the results suggests that the more attractive a person finds a stranger, the more monetary value the stranger is assumed to have. The Pearson Correlation was r=. 05 which proves that these results were reliable.
The fact that r=. 05 means that the results were very specific, with few outliers, and can be condensed to a confined ranged of results, which all fit in together to support the hypothesis. Also, the low standard deviations of SD=1. 12212 and SD=. 33066 show how little overall variation there is to the variable means among participants. The results of this study can be interestingly related to the results of other studies previously performed, while the studies themselves may not mirror each other.
As discovered by Dawson and McIntosh (2006), men and women on dating websites, if considered less attractive, emphasis more of their personal traits (Dawson & McIntosh, 2006). Though it was not a component of the study being examined, some participants in the photos, when less attractive, dressed better, in fancier clothing, while those who were deemed more attractive tended to wear less flashy clothes. Perhaps if a person does not consider themselves to be physically appealing, they will try to look nice in other ways in public, such as clothing.
Previously discussed, an experiment by Hart, Ottati, and Krumdick (2011) revealed that voters are more likely influenced by and likely to remember candidates that are perceived as more physically attractive and tend to think higher said attractive candidates (Hart et. al, 2011). This could have a relation to the current experiment in the respects that the survey takers may have had higher expectations of the participants’ monetary value if considered more attractive. This could be because people have a tendency to hold high hopes and expectations for those they find desirable.
The experiment at hand has no relation, however, to the third theory Previously discussed by Patzer (1985). Patzer (1985) believed that there is a combination of specific attributes that causes a person to be attracted to another person. A specific feature that Patzer discussed was height, being that females prefer taller men and males vice versa (Patzer, 1985). However, there was no way for the surveyors to judge the participant’s height to their own through the pictures shown during the survey. For this experiment at least, height had nothing to do with personal attraction or attraction’s relation to wealth.
There were very few flaws to this experiment that would have altered the results. The only obvious flaw was the issue of sexual orientation. For surveying ease, the experimenters divided the groups into male and female, rather than by sexual orientation because while attracted to males and attracted to females are two clear groups, there may have been bisexuals in the population and they would not have been able to take the survey twice. So though some surveyors may have felt that they were in the wrong group and it may have had an effect on the results, it effects were nothing detrimental.
If repeated in the future, perhaps the experiment would involve surveys more catering to sexual orientation rather than being limited to division of gender. On the other hand, while there may have been a flaw, there was no experimenter bias because each participants’ correct wealth was never hinted at until the end. Also, it was impossible for the surveyors to develop practice effects because the survey involved no technique or talent. Also, there was no difficulty level so there was no floor or ceiling effects. In conclusion, the original hypothesis was supported.
There was a positive correlation between perceived attractiveness and assumed monetary wealth, this meaning the more attractive a person found a stranger, the person then tended to assume the stranger proportionately more wealthy. There may be more triggers behind this phenomenon but judging by the survey results, the correlation was at least fueled by the attractiveness variable.