Physical attractiveness, perceived attitude similarity, and interpersonal attraction among fifth and eleventh grade boys and girls

Date

1970

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Abstract

Three studies were reported which explored and replicated relationships involving physical attractiveness, perceived attitude similarity, and interpersonal attraction (popularity). The first two studies used only fifth grade Ss and did not include the variable of perceived attitude similarity. The second study was a cross-cultural replication using Mexican children. The third study confirmed all of the findings of the first two studies and, consequently, the remainder of this abstract reports only the third study. Two grade levels were studied: fifth and eleventh grade boys and girls. Ss were photographed and then judged their classmates and themselves. The Ss were also judged on physical attractiveness by judges who did not know them. Ss also ranked their classmates on popularity and filled out an attitude questionnaire reflecting how similar they believed their attitudes were compared with each member of their class. The following hypotheses received support. (1) Physical attractiveness is scalable. (2) There is a significant correlation between ranking (most to least attractive) and rating (handsome, average, ugly) methods of judging physical attractiveness. (3) Boys and girls use similar criteria in making their judgments of physical attractiveness. (4a) Knowing the person being judged affects the judgments of their physical attractiveness within the limits set by the existence of significant correlations between the rankings of physical attractiveness made by knowers and nonknowers of the Ss' whose photographs were judged. (4b) The knowing variable has the greatest influence on judgments of average looking Ss as compared to Ss at either extreme. (5) Physical attractiveness and perceived attitude similarity are both significantly correlated with popularity. Multiple regression analyses indicated that physical attractiveness contributed to most of the variance in popularity rankings for the fifth grade boys' rankings of both boys and girls, the fifth grade girls' rankings of the boys, and the eleventh grade boys' rankings of the girls. Perceived attitude similarity accounted for more of the variance in popularity rankings than physical attractiveness for the fifth grade girls' rankings of their girl classmates, the eleventh grade girls' rankings of both their boy and girl classmates, and the eleventh grade boys' rankings of their boy classmates. Alternative explanations for the differential predictiveness of physical attractiveness and perceived attitude similarity were discussed. An ancillary finding was that two measures oE academic achievement contributed negligibly to the variance of the popularity rankings. Three alternative hypotheses derived from G. H. Mead's theory of the origins of the self concept were tested. Significant correlations were found between Ss' physical attractiveness self concept and their perception of where their classmates rank them on physical attractiveness. In three of the four analyses significant correlations were not found between the Ss' perception of where their classmates rank them on physical attractiveness and the classmates actual rankings. These results were interpreted as failing to support Mead's hypothesis. In addition, the objective somatic characteristics of the S were found to be more important in the determination of the self concept than were his classmates' rankings of his physical attractiveness. Somatotype was found to be more important than coloration or height in making judgments of physical attractiveness, while these three variables all appeared to be of relatively equal importance in the determination of the self concept. Data indicated that Ss low (ectomorphic, endomorphic, tall, or dark) on any somatic variable had ranked themselves relatively low on physical attractiveness. Self evaluations which were independent of peer judgments were found to be more important to the determination of the self concept than mechanisms related to social learning theory. Social learning theory had difficulty accounting for the results.

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Interpersonal attraction

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