Eye Candy: Do Students Prefer Physically Attractive Professors?

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When given a choice, professors should be chosen on previous experience and credentials. More often than not perceived facial attractiveness can potentially influence a student’s decision in choosing a professor. If a student chooses their professors based off of facial attractiveness instead of teaching methods, it can potentially be risking the academic outcome of the student. Biological instincts which drive certain human functions can potentially overpower logical decisions. Students attending Fullerton College were surveyed in order to better understand the mentality of an individual choosing a professor based off of facial attractiveness. A survey, containing four different conditions, was distributed on campus to collect data regarding professor preferences. Some significant results were found after analyzing the collected data. Eye Candy: Do Students Prefer Physically Attractive Professors?

Everyday attractiveness is measured on an unconscious level depending on an individual’s surroundings. By developing an experiment to test this theory using student-teacher preferences based on looks, it is possible to better understand how perceived attractiveness is used in everyday lives. When given a choice between professors, a student should give priority to a professor’s teaching methods and credentials over attractiveness. However, the constant exposure to the repetitive school environment has created a dull, everyday cycle. The only aspect in a student’s academic environment which continuously changes is the professors. Due to this continuous cycle, perhaps, students have unconsciously decided to focus more readily in a classroom when an attractive professor is teaching the class rather than an unattractive professor. Therefore, in theory, if a student is presented with a stimulus, such as a picture, it is more likely that the attractive professor will be chosen.

Many studies discuss the influence of perceived facial attractiveness. Such studies, specifically in evolutionary psychology, have suggested that facial characteristics such as symmetry, facial average and non average sexually dimorphic features have an influence on the evaluation of an individual’s attractiveness (Fink & Penton-Voak, 2002). Research such as this focuses on indicators of good, resistant, and healthy genes implying that there is a biological factor which is directly linked to what an individual finds attractive (Fink & Penton-Voak, 2002). Generally, these perceptions are rooted in the desire to have a healthy mate which whom can pass on good genes to the preceding generations. (Johnston & Oliver-Rodriguez, 2001) If an individual is attractive it is seen through human eyes as a “health certificate” (Thornhill & Gangestad, 1999). Using previous studies, which positively correlate attractive features and symmetry, an individual’s attraction is biologically based on facial appeal (Saidel & Deblieck, 2007). Even though most students do not look at a professor as a potential partner, it may be instinctual to seek out a professor whom captures the attention of a student. In an environment which has become uninteresting, it is logical to imply that the mind seeks out an alluring bystander in the vicinity. Attraction, being a common biological function, is one logical way to filter unwanted distractions. Attempting to use attractiveness as a filter is directly linked to evolutionary studies because it is directly related to the search for a potential mate. Even though, for the most part, a sexual relationship is not desired with a professor, using attraction as a way to enhance the surroundings is biologically rooted. Driven by this unconscious process, students are given an incentive to focus more deliberately in class. Methods

This experiment consisted of four conditions which were given out in a survey form. The four conditions were presented to participants as manipulated photographs. These photographs were...
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