The relationship between racial attitudes and perceived physical attractiveness


The relationship between racial attitudes and perceived physical attractiveness was investigated utilizing Caucasian and African-American college students (N = 107). Racial attitudes were measured using Wooten and Brown's (1991) Racial Attitudes Adjective Checklist (RAAC). Perceived physical attractiveness was measured using a 7- point Likert-type scale (from 1 = extremely unattractive to 7 = extremely attractive). Twenty-four facial photographs of Caucasian and African-American males and females served as stimuli. In addition to the Attractiveness Scale, subjects completed the RAAC for Caucasians and then completed the same adjective checklist for African Americans. A mixed-model Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to evaluate the RAAC data. The only significant main effect for the RAAC scores was the race of targets. African American targets had higher positive and negative RAAC scores than Caucasian targets. Further analysis of the RAAC scores revealed a significant interaction between the race of subjects and the race of the target group. There was also a significant interaction between the positive and negative RAAC ratings and the race of the subjects. There was also a significant interaction between race of subject, positive and negative RAAC scores and race of target. Analysis of RAAC scores indicated that subjects view their own racial group more positively. A mixed-model ANOVA was also used to evaluate the attractiveness ratings. The three significant main effects of attractiveness ratings were attractiveness of target, race of subject and race of target. Regarding the attractiveness ratings, eight significant interactions occurred between race of subject and race of target, gender of subject and gender of target, and the attractiveness of target. The data for the attractiveness ratings revealed that African-Americans were rated highest in attractiveness. The data also showed that female subjects rated all stimuli higher than male subjects. Also overall, female targets were rated higher in attractiveness than male targets. All raters also agreed as to which targets were attractive and which targets were unattractive suggesting beauty is perceived the same for both racial groups and both gender. There was one significant correlation between overall RAAC scores and perceived physical attractiveness ratings. The overall rated attractiveness of Caucasian targets was significantly correlated with the overall RAAC scores of Caucasian subjects. Hence, Caucasians with higher RAAC scores tended to rate Caucasian targets higher in attractiveness.


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Graduation Date





Wang, Alvin Y.


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences






65 p.



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Masters Thesis (Open Access)




Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences

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