The Effects of Hairstyle on Perceived Attractiveness

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Physical characteristics from asymmetry to weight to hair color all have an impact on people's perception of attractiveness (Clayson & Klassen, 1989; Rhodes, Geddes, Jeffery, Dziurawiec, & Clark, 2002). Previous studies have shown that obese people are viewed with a negative stereotype and as more unattractive with an absence of personal responsibility (Clayson & Klassen, 1989). Levels of attractiveness have also been studied in several terms of facial characteristics. Some researchers questioned whether attractiveness is a cultural phenomenon or a part of biological heritage (Rhodes, Geddes, Jeffery, Dziurawiec, & Clark, 2002). Their main focus was on infants and their ability to discriminate between the degree of "averageness" and asymmetry. The infants' looking behavior showed that they were able to distinguish differences amongst pairs of faces in the experiment. The results astonished the researchers because infants can acknowledge the difference between unattractive and attractive people much like adults can, which implies that part of attraction is biological.

Another aspect of attractiveness that has been examined is the halo effect associated with physical attractiveness: "what is beautiful is good" (Dion, Berscheid, & Waltser, 1974). However, other researchers have contradicted this theory and believe that it is overgeneralized (Timmerman & Hewitt, 1980). According to the work of Timmerman and Hewitt, attractive models are more likeable, but mixed ratings are received in terms of personality traits. Although their results were in contradiction with previous studies, they conclude it to be as a result in differing dependent variables. Therefore, the halo effect associated with physical attractiveness exists with ratings of sociability.

To many people's surprise, researchers discovered that average is more attractive (Rhodes et al., 2005). Rhodes states that "average faces cannot be attributed to blending artifacts, symmetry, or pleasant expressions…that average faces are more attractive than most" (p. 339). The idea of developing prototypes in the mind is one explanation of why average faces are determined as more attractive. For instance, after participants consistently view several distorted faces, a non-to-low-distorted face seems less attractive. This suggests that average faces are attractive because of their central location in distribution based on the experience of the viewer, and thus prototypes are rapidly updating in response to changes in experience. Rhodes also suggests that race plays an important role in developing prototypes. He hypothesized that people would rank others of their own race as more attractive than others of different races. The evidence that supports this theory says that with familiarity the repetition of viewing certain average faces results in the assimilation of previously unattractive faces into the prototype (Peskin & Newell, 2004). In other words, the average faces of one's race that can be seen nearly every day should create a prototype of attractiveness. However, the results obtained by Rhodes found participants ranking mixed-race faces (a composite of Caucasian and Japanese averaged faces) more attractive than faces of their own race for both males and females. In attempt to explain the results, Rhodes proposed the composites created by computer programs may not be representative of their groups and, therefore, are difficult to suggest whether people are more attracted to individuals they resemble or not. Thus, the findings of past research suggest that, in general, people find others with similar attributes and characteristics to themselves to be more attractive.

The main focus of the present study is to determine the effect of hair style on perceived attractiveness. Several prior studies have already tested the effects of hair on attractiveness. In particular, a study of hair color effect on attractiveness rating found that blonde, brown, and black hair colors...
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