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MICHAELJ. BAKERand GILBERTA. CHURCHILL,JR.*
A considerable amount of social science research suggests an individual's initial perception of and reaction to another individual are affected by the physical attractiveness of the other person. The authors attempt to assess whether this general finding applies to people's perceptions of advertisements. Specifically, they assess the impact of attractiveness of male and female models on subjects' evaluations of ads, and seek to determine whether the reactions depend on the sex of the ad reader or on the type of product being advertised.
INTRODUCTION The old adage that "you can't judge a book by its cover" does not seem to apply to interpersonal amountof social science relationsin thata considerable researchsuggests an individual'sinitialperception of and reactionto anotherindividualare affected by the physical attractiveness of the other person. A fair summarystatement of the findings of this research is that "whatis beautifulis good." Physicalattractivensss has been found, for instance, (1) to be the only determinant likingand subsequentdatingof compuof ter-determineddance partners [5, 34]; (2) to affect positively the inference of a person's personality by others not acquainted with the person [9, 21]; (3) to influence the popularity of a person ; (4) to affect people's perceptionsof the behaviorof children ; (5) to influence teachers' attitudes about the performanceof students [6, 20]; and (6) to affect judgmentsof guiltandlengthof sentences in simulated criminalcases [10, 13, 29]. For an excellent review of the physical attractivenessliterature,see . Physical Attractivenessand Person Perception It has long been recognized that individuals will regularlymake extensive inferences about others on * Michael Bakeris ProjectDirector,BurkeMarketing Research, J. and GilbertA. Churchill,Jr., is Professorof Marketing,Graduate Schoolof Business, Universityof Wisconsin,Madison.The authors express appreciationto Michael L. Rothschild, who reviewed a draft of this article, and to the JMR reviewers for their many helpfulcomments. 538
the basis of very scant information.Person perception consists of the processes involved in forming judgments for making inferences about others . Of particularinterest...