Halo Effect: the Impact of Differences Between Target and Perceiver
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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HARR, D. A. (2003). Halo Effect: the Impact of Differences Between Target and Perceiver . National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 6. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 21, 2017 .

Halo Effect: the Impact of Differences Between Target and Perceiver
DANIEL A. HARR
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
The halo effect occurs when physical beauty is generalized to other dimensions, such as social or intellectual skills. Previous research shows the halo effect effects social competence, intellectual competence and personal adjustment, and does not effect concern for others and integrity. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of age differences between target and perceiver on the halo effect. The design will be a 2 (target: attractive vs. unattractive) X 2 (target age: 18-25 vs. over 50) X 2 (perceiver age: 18-25 vs. over 50) factorial with three dependent measures (social competence, intellectual competence and concern for others). Participants will be asked to rate a target person on a 5-point scale measuring social competence, intellectual competence and concern for others. Data will be analyzed using a 2 X 2 X 2 analysis of variance on the three dependent measures. The only main effect anticipated is for target attractiveness with attractive targets being rated higher on all dimensions than unattractive. I predict a 3-way interaction among target attractiveness, target age, and perceiver age such that the closer the perceiver age to the target, the weaker the halo effect will be.

INTRODUCTION
In their classic study of judgmental bias, ‘What is beautiful is good’, Dion, Berscheid and Walster (1972) asked subjects to choose which personality traits applied to pictures of attractive and unattractive people. Their results showed that more positive traits were attributed to the attractive individuals, as compared to the less attractive individuals. This bias, or halo effect, was obtained consistently over a wide range of rated traits and personal qualities. Many further studies have repeated these findings, showing this bias as well (e.g., Kalick, 1988; Saladin, Saper, & Breen, 1988; Walster, Aronson, Abrahams, & Rottman, 1966), subjects consistently indication their belief that more attractive people possess superior personal qualities. Nearly all of these studies have used young adults as subjects, although this type of stereotyping has been found as young as ages 3-6 years (Dion, 1973). However no studies in the literature extended the age of the subjects above adulthood. Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani, & Longo (1991) completed a meta-analytic review of research on the physical attractiveness stereotype finding a robust effect on social competence and an intermediate effect for intellectual competence and personal adjustment. The review, however, did not take into account age of the target or perceiver. It is a common cultural belief that age brings some measure of wisdom and a reluctance to be swayed by less important things. A Harris poll found that 64% of Americans thought the elderly were “very wise from experience” (Harris, 1975; as cited in Kennedy, 1978). In a more objective study, Maylor (1994) has found that the older adults scored higher than young adults did on a test of general knowledge, a finding similar to that of Salthouse (1993). In a pilot study, a large halo effect was found for older participants rating a younger target, and was not found for younger participants rating the same target. The purpose of the present study is to determine the impact of age differences between target and perceiver on the halo effect for physical attractiveness.


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
The younger participants in this study were 60 college freshmen enrolled at Northwest Missouri State University, the University of Kansas, or the University of Missouri – Columbia. The 56 older participants were active members of their community in: Lawrence, Kansas; Columbia, Missouri; Maryville, Missouri; or Saint Joseph, Missouri.

MATERIALS
For this study there were 4 targets, an attractive and unattractive target from each age category. There was one target on the page followed by a 5-point Likert style scale rating social competence, intellectual competence and concern for others.

PROCEDURE
Participants were asked to rate either an attractive or unattractive target person from a randomly assigned age category on a 5-point Likert scale measuring social competence, intellectual competence and concern for others. After rating the target picture, the participant was debriefed. The results were then tallied and calculated


RESULTS
A series of 2 (target: attractive vs. unattractive) X 2 (target age: 18-25 vs. over 50) X 2 (perceiver age: 18-25 vs. over 50) between-subjects factorial ANOVA were calculated comparing the scores of each participant rating a target (see Figure 1) on intellectual competence, social competence, and concern for others.A 2 (target: attractive vs. unattractive) X 2 (target age: 18-25 vs. over 50) X 2 (perceiver age: 18-25 vs. over 50) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the scores of each participant rating the targets on intellectual competence (see Figures 2 and 3). A significant main effect for target age was found (F(1,108) = 9.874, p < .05). Participants rated the younger targets higher in intellectual competence (m = 9.0333, sd = .82270) than participants rating older targets (m = 8.6071, sd = .88787). The main effect for target attractiveness was not significant (F(1,108) = .142, p > .05). A significant main effect for perceiver age was found (F(1,108) = 20.638, p < .05). The interaction between target age and target attractiveness was not significant (F(1,108) = 1.718, p > .05). The interaction between target age and perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = .016, p > .05). The interaction between target attractiveness and perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = 2.221, p > .05). The interaction between target age, target attractiveness, and perceiver age was significant (F(1,108) = 8.358, p < .05). Young participants rated the young unattractive target higher (m = 9.5333, sd = .74322) than older participants rated the older attractive target (m = 8.0769, sd = .64051).A 2 (target: attractive vs. unattractive) X 2 (target age: 18-25 vs. over 50) X 2 (perceiver age: 18-25 vs. over 50) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the scores of each participant rating the targets on social competence (see Figures 4 and 5). The main effect for target age was not significant (F(1,108) = 1.905, p > .05). A significant main effect for target attractiveness was found (F(1,108) = 23.658, p < .05). The main effect for perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = .010, p > .05). The interaction between target age and target attractiveness was not significant (F(1,108) = 2.754, p > .05). The interaction between target age and perceiver age was significant (F(1,108) = 9.645, p < .05). The interaction between target attractiveness and perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = 2.754, p > .05). The interaction between target age, target attractiveness, and perceiver age was significant (F(1,108) = 10.586, p < .05). The younger participants rated the older attractive target higher (m = 9.3333, sd = .48795) than the older participants rated the older unattractive target (m = 7.8462, sd = 1.06819).A 2 (target: attractive vs. unattractive) X 2 (target age: 18-25 vs. over 50) X 2 (perceiver age: 18-25 vs. over 50) between-subjects factorial ANOVA was calculated comparing the scores of each participant rating the targets on concern for others (see Figures 6 and 7). The main effect for target age was not significant (F(1,108) = 1.327, p > .05). The main effect for target attractiveness was not significant (F(1,108) = .001, p > .05). The main effect for perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = 1.672, p > .05). The interaction between target age and target attractiveness was not significant (F(1,108) = 2.101, p > .05). The interaction between target age and perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = 3.108, p > .05). The interaction between target attractiveness and perceiver age was not significant (F(1,108) = .345, p > .05). The interaction between target age, target attractiveness, and perceiver age was significant (F(1,108) = 10.473, p < .05). The older participants rated the younger attractive target higher (m = 9.0000, sd = .92582) than the younger participants rated the older unattractive target (m = 8.0667, sd = 1.03280).


DISCUSSION
The present data are significant in the 3-way interactions for intellectual competence, social competence, and concern for others as was predicted. These data, however, show that the strongest halo effect in some categories were within age groups and not between age groups as was predicted. The current problems with this study have been significant. The data were compiled of several small groups instead of one large group for each age category, which would not control for anomalous data. Several people due to time and population constraints also collected the data. This did not allow for a uniform process of data collection. I would like to see if the data would be similar if collected from single communities for each age category. I believe continuing this study or one similar to it will have significant implications for organizational selection decisions, as many human resource directors differ in age from the applicants they are rating in the hiring process.


REFERENCES
Dion, K. (1973). Young children’s stereotyping of facial attractiveness. Developmental Psychology, 9, 183-188Dion, K., Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. (1972). What is beautiful is good. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 24, 285-290.Eagly, A. H., Ashmore, R. D., Makhijani, M. G., & Longo, L. C. (1991). What is beautiful is good, but…: A meta-analytic review of the physical attractiveness stereotype. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 109-128.Kalick, S.M.(1988). Physical attractiveness as a status cue. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 24, 469-489.Kennedy, C.E. (1978). Human development: The adult years and aging. New York: Macmillan.Maylor, E. (1994). Ading and the retrieval of specialized and general knowledge: Performance of Master-minds. British Journal of Psychology, 35, 105-114.Saladin, m., Saper, Z., & Breen, L. (1988). Perceived attractiveness and attributions of criminality: What is beautiful is not criminal. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 30, 251-259.Salthouse, T. (1993). Speed and knowledge as determinants of adult age differences in verbal tasks. Journal of Gerontology, 48, 29-36.Walster, E., Aronson, V., Abrahams, D., & Rottman, L. (1966). Importance of physical attractiveness in dating behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 508-516.


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Submitted 12/4/2003 12:45:03 PM
Last Edited 12/4/2003 1:03:08 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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