The Effects of Women's Age and Physical Appearance on Evaluations of Attractiveness and Social Desirability
Without question, the concepts of attractiveness and age are both important considerations to many individuals within Western culture. Age itself, is often viewed as a component of physical attractiveness. Arthur H. Perlini, Susan Bertolissi and David L. Lind performed an interesting study that incorporates the well-recognized factors of age and attractiveness. Moreover, the study used these two factors as variables, and evaluated if their absence or presence effected the way an individual was perceived by others. Specifically, the researchers studied if a person's attractiveness and age have an effected whether or not others perceived them as being socially desirable.
The participants in the study consisted of two groups, a younger group and an older group. Both groups of participants were used as judges in evaluating photographs on several different topics. The older participants, or judges in this case consisted of a panel of 40 women and 40 men, ranging from sixty to eighty-five years old. The younger group of judges consisted of 40 women and 40 men, ranging from eighteen to thirty years of age. The older sample of mentally healthy individuals was selected from local senior citizen residencies. The younger sample of judges was recruited from an introductory psychology participant pool at Algoma University College.
The study itself was performed in an interesting way, in an attempt to limit confounding variables. The experimenters selected three photos of attractive younger models, and three photos of attractive older models from several magazines. The photo's used in the study were only of females, because of the high regard for female attractiveness in Western culture. The photos that were selected were of models that were not well known, and the photos of the models were clipped above their shoulders. The reasons for this was to limit bias, based on the participants possibly knowing the personality of the model, and not have the model's clothing have any influence on their judgments. From the participants, a total of twelve male and female participants, six younger and six older each privately ranked the two sets of photos selected in their level of attractiveness only. The photos with the highest rankings from each group of three were selected for the actual experiment. Therefore, based on the panel's unanimous rankings, two photos were selected, one being an attractive older model and one an attractive younger model.
The experimenters used a fascinating method to obtain photos of unattractive older and younger individuals, as a comparison for the attractive photos. The experimenters used a computer program, which used the two photos selected for the experiment, to create unattractive versions of the models. Manipulating the photos in three ways achieved this; firstly, enlarging the noses, arranging the...