Robert L. Dipboye
physical attractiveness, personnel selection, stereotypes, discrimination, stimulus sampling, person perception, social cognition, gender bias, attractiveness bias, physical appearance, methodology
Previous research on physical attractiveness bias in job applicant evaluations has ignored three important issues. First, the sex-typing of the positions for which applicants are evaluated is usually weak despite the need to provide strongly male and female-typed positions in testing for beauty is beastly effects. Second, the samples of stimuli used in the manipulations of applicant sex, attractiveness, and sex-typing of the job are small. Third, the statistical analyses used in testing hypotheses fail to incorporate variability among both human participants and stimuli. The present research corrected for these three omissions in an experiment in which participants evaluated the suitability of applicants who were physically attractive or unattractive, male or female, and were applying for a male-typed or female-typed position. The experimental design was a within-person 2 (applicant sex) X 2 (applicant attractiveness) X 2 (sex-type of job) ANOVA. Each participant received a set of eight applicants with the photograph used in the manipulation of sex and attractiveness and the type of job randomly drawn from a pool of photographs and jobs. Consistent with the recommendations of Clark (1973), the hypotheses were tested using as subjects the human participants (F1 analyses), pictures (F2 analyses), positions (F2 analyses), and picture-position combinations (F2 analyses). Also, quasi-Fs were conducted to incorporate variability of both human participants and stimuli. All the analyses revealed an attractiveness bias in which the attractive candidates were evaluated more favorably than unattractive candidates. A job sex-type X applicant sex interaction revealed that males were evaluated more favorably for male-typed positions and females for female-typed positions. Also found were main effects for applicant sex and job-type, although these effects were subsumed by the job sex-type X applicant sex interaction. The analyses of the ratings of suitability were consistent with chi-square analyses of best- and worst-fit choices. The findings suggest that the bias against attractive applicants is robust across stimuli as well as human participants. No evidence was found for a beauty is beastly effect. Exploratory analyses suggested that a bias against attractive females is limited to a narrow domain of jobs.
Dipboye, R. L. & Dhahani, L. (August 13, 2013). The magnification, mitigation, and reversal of the physical attractiveness effect. Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management, Orlando, Fl
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Dipboye, Robert L. and Dhahani, Lyndsey, "Exploring Stimulus Variability in Applicant Attractiveness" (2013). Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works. 636.
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