Sex Roles, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1978
Is Beauty Talent? Sex Interaction in the Attractiveness Halo Effect 1
Robert M. Kaplan 2
San Diego State University
Two experiments were performed to replicate and extend previous findings o f judgmental bias which favors physically attractive people. In the first experiment male and female subjects judged an essay purportedly written by an attractive or an unattractive female author. The attractive author was rated as significantly more talented by male judges. Female judges rated the attractive author as less talented, although this difference was not statistically significant. A second experiment concerned ratoNs by males and females o f essays written by attractive or unattractive male authors. The results suggested that the attractiveness halo effect does not occur for male authors.
Do physically attractive people have unfair advantages? An accumulation of contemporary research suggests that they do (Berscheid & Walster, 1972). Of particular interest is a set o f experiments which suggests that attractive people receive superior evaluations for behavior comparable to that of less attractive individuals (Clifford & Walster, 1973; Landy & Sigall, 1974). These results are discouraging because they imply discrimination in the evaluation of school and job performance (Berscheid & Walster, 1972; Dipbaze, Fromkin, & Wilback, 1975) as well as in judgments concerning moral or legal transgressions (Dion, 1972; Sigall & Ostrove, 1975). Since this research suggests unfair treatment of people, it is important to examine in detail reports concerning this bias. The most often cited experiment on an attractiveness-induced halo effect was reported by Landy and Sigall (1974). 1A similar version of this article was presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Los Angeles, April 1976. Thanks are due to Jan Ault, Lynn Barrett, Paul Leathem, Mike Orenich, Bill Staxns, and Meg Wiedlin for their participation in various...