Attractive Workers Getting Hired The Research Proposal

Length: 10 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Psychology Type: Research Proposal Paper: #4293440 Related Topics: Conceptualizing A Business, Human Sexuality, Job Interview, Attribution Theory
Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Therefore, if one perceives oneself as attractive, behavior might be modified which would then fit notions of what is deemed outgoing or attractive behavioral patterns, further increasing the positive perception of the individual in question. According to research, "The basic premise of symbolic interaction is that people attach symbolic meaning to objects, behaviors, themselves, and other people, and they develop and transmit these meanings through interaction," (Howard 2000:371). Through the interaction of both the interview and the later employment experience, the group is then allocating symbolic meanings of attractiveness levels on each and every individual within it. Thus, it is clear that "sexuality has become a central dimension of identity formation," (Howard 2000:373). Interviewees may then also construct an identity where they view themselves as unattractive, and their behavior will be negatively affected. His can then produce a sense of anxiety or stress within the context of the interview. Prior research has shown that "context-specific anxiety has a significant impact on the success or failure of the interview process," (Young et al. 2004:50).

The bias towards attractive people only continues after interviewees are hired. According to research, later performance evaluations can also reflect the same bias towards attractive workers that was first experienced within the context of the interview itself; "The evaluator's personal characteristics and biases may affect the performance appraisal process," once an employee is taken on into the organization (McBey 1994:25). Therefore, the judgment of the employee's performance also becomes relevant to their socially allocated role as either attractive or unattractive. "Physical attractiveness has also been shown to affect expected and perceived job performance, personnel selection, responsibility for undesirable behavior," among many more potential discriminations (Chia et al. 1998:472). Yet, some studies show through analysis that the majority of "beautiful people" tend to only be average at achievements and performances, both academically and professionally. This is contrast to the largely held idea that they are perceived to be higher achievers and better workers. According to a 1998 study (Chia et al.:475), although beautiful people were proven to be only average achievers, "The findings for the perception of achievement related-traits and initiative, however, indicate that the more attractive persons were indeed perceived to have more achievement-related traits and greater initiative." Therefore, it is clear that although the actual achievement potential of more attractive people proves only average, it is the perception of others that raises that average to a higher potentiality in order to excuse picking them above other candidates.

To complicate matters even further, women face more of an expected standard to be attractive. According to status characteristics theory "gender acts as a diffuse status characteristic, a general characteristic that is associated with an individual's relative status in society," (Eckes 2000:310). Thus, gender also plays a large role within the interview process. It also establishes greater importance of attractiveness and how it is perceived within the group. In a majority of larger social situations "there is evidence that males are considered more competent than females," a fact which places more weight on the attractiveness of female interviewees, for men are considered to be capable regardless of their attractiveness (Eckes & Trautner 2000:310). Prior studies have shown that in a professional setting, here is a stronger attraction bias against women then as seen in their male counterparts. In fact, one study (Chia et al. 1998:475) found that although "unattractive men consistently received the most favorable ratings," in terms of performance perception, "unattractive women consistently received the most unfavorable ratings." Women face much stronger criticism in terms of the attractiveness of their appearance, which then has an effect on the way their performance is perceived. Thus, unattractive women have been found to be less likely to...


Women also face much more criticism in terms of small changes to their appearance, as seen especially in terms of varying weight fluctuations. According to one study, "weight and body shape were 'the central dominants' of a woman's perception of her own physical attractiveness -- a perception that may accurately reflect the high importance of body build or figure in male's attraction to women," (Alley et al. 1994:536). Additionally, many women are forced into specific work categories based on their sex which then solidify gender stereotypes within the workplace. In the social construction of individual identities, "Gender also impacts self-presentation," (Catania 1999:29). This can then have an impact on the formulation of identity characteristics and traits.


The participants will be divided into two general demographics. The first are the newly graduated individuals looking for careers who will be interviewed on camera as to have their appearance judged. Follow up with this group will then include measuring the rate at which these individuals find jobs. They will be in their early to mid twenties, largely single, and recruited through associated with their university. The second group will be younger undergraduate students who are still in school. Within the study there are also several variables to consider. In this design, the independent variable will be the judged value of attractiveness exuded by the individuals of the first group. This will be decided by giving the judges a scale between 1 to 5 to rate the level of attractiveness, 1 being unattractive and 5 being attractive.

At the very beginning initial stages, the first group of participants that will have their attractiveness rated will be greeted by the study staff and brought into the interview room. Then a small interview will take place in regards to what type of professional field they are looking to enter into, this interview will be taped and used within the later judging process. Since prior research has found that facial beauty, behavior, and style are all strong predictors of attractiveness, it is important to capture all three in the interview process (Riggio 1991). Thus, a close up of their face and a short clip that highlights their behavior and style will be a crucial element of the short video taken of the first group of participants. Then all follow up information will be taken so that researchers can contact them in set periods of time to check on their employment status. After one week, two weeks, and one month, researchers will then contact the participants to see if they have been hired, and if so, when that hiring took place. Once an individual has been hired, research staff can thank them for their cooperation and provide compensation for their service within the study.

After the initial group has been dealt with, researchers can then focus on the second participant group who will be used to gauge attractiveness. The 100 judges within the context of the study will be recruited through the local Introduction Psychology classes as a way to participate within the context of a real research study. If possible, researchers can work with the professor to give extra credit for their participation as a small form of compensation. These undergraduate student judges will then go through each participant video and rate that individual participant on level of their attractiveness, from 1 to 5, 1 being completely unattractive and 5 being absolutely attractive. These judgments will then be measured using the Hong Psychological Reactance Scale, or the HPRS (Thomas et al. 2001). This scale breaks down into subsets based on four different and specific categories: freedom of choice, conformity, freedom of behavior, and reactions based on advice and recommendations. In this scale there are 14 pointed out items in total, with set multiple choice answer choices between 1 and 5, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. The answers can the measured and analyzed in terms of correlation for how fast those individuals were hired using an ANOVA scale. Utilizing short interview videos over simple pictures will help incorporate the elements of behavior and style that is also key in our perception of rating attractiveness. The video will also help emulate the occurrence of a real job interview, which then once again focuses the context of the study towards looking specifically at the rating of attractiveness within an interview situation, which has been lacking in the majority of modern research. After each of these participants has judged the attractiveness of the entire first group of participants, they may also receive their small compensation, in the form of extra credit, for participation within the context of the research study.


This study aims to explore the level of attractiveness in terms of biases which come up during the context of an employment interview. Thus, the hypothesis is that individuals deemed more attractive by the group of judges. The current research conducted within the area does support the validity of the thesis, and this finding would be in fact consistent with prior study.

Yet, the design of this study does have some limitations. Working within a specific younger demographic, it does not provide evidence for supporting the hypothesis within older individuals. Thus, future…

Sources Used in Documents:


Alley, Thomas R. & Scully, Katherine M. (1994). The impact of actual and perceived changes in body weight on women's physical attractiveness. Basic and Applied Psychology. 15(4):535-543. Retrieved from on December 3, 2009.

Cantania, Joseph A. (1999). A framework for conceptualizing reporting bias and its antecedents in interviews assessing human sexuality. The Journal of Sex Research. 36(1):25-37. Retrieved from on December 4, 2009.

Chia, R.D.; Allred, L.J.; & Grossnickle, G.W. Lee. (1998). The effects of attractiveness and gender on the perception of achievement-related variables. Journal of Social Psychology. 138(4):463-475. Retrieved from December 3, 2009.

Eckes, Thomas & Trautner, Hanns M. (2000). The Developmental Social Psychology of Gender. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Mahwah, NJ.

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