In past research, Kyle and Mahler (1996) examined whether a female applicants hair color and use of cosmetics might affect perceptions of her ability for a professional position. One hundred thirty six college students reviewed the identical professional resume of a female applicant for the position of a staff accountant. Attached to the resume was a photograph of the stimulus female applicant either wearing or not wearing cosmetics and depicted with brunette, red, or blonde hair color. The results demonstrated significant main effects of both hair color and cosmetic use. Specifically, the applicant was rated more capable and was assigned a higher salary both when depicted with brunette hair color and when depicted without cosmetics. There were no interactions between hair color and cosmetic use.
In a study of stereotyping based on physical appearance, 3 different photographs of the same attractive female, as a blonde, as a brunette, and as a redhead, were used. These were rated with a standard set of photographs of other attractive females on a number of dimensions that included intelligence and temperament by different groups of 75 male and 75 female undergraduates. Male Ss attributed significantly lower intelligence to blondes than to brunettes. The hypothesis that the target female would be rated as more temperamental as a redhead than as a blonde or a brunette was supported by the results. The authors suggest that the findings have serious implications for the way in which men view women.
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This research was conducted at Hunter College and New York metropolitan area, the participants were chosen through convenience sampling. There were 253 participants and only 245 participants reported their gender, 100 males (40.8%) and 145 females (59.2%). The participants were 18+ years old (N = 253, M= 23.99, SD= 7.41).Researchers marked the participant's hair color after the survey was returned and there were 22 blondes (8.7%), 209 brown/dark hair (82.9%), 7 redheads (2.8%) and 14 other hair color (5.6%). Participant's race was reported too, 56 Caucasians (22.2%), 46 Hispanics (18.3%), 58 African Americans (23%), 67 Asians (26.6%) and 25 reported as other (9.9%). There were 32 homosexuals (12.7%), 211 heterosexuals (84.1%), 5bisexuals (2%) and 3 as others (1.2%).
This experiment used a novel stimulus material that was produced by the researchers through face research lab website. The stimulus faces of Caucasian male and female, and mixed race male and female were generated using PsychoMorph, facial averaging software. Through Taaz.com, a makeover software, the stimulus faces were given natural looking hair style and hair color. The hair style chosen for females was "Kirsten Dunst" wavy hairstyle and males had "Mia Wasikowska" short hair. Females were given golden blonde, ash brown and red hair color. Whereas, males were given golden blonde, darkest brown and red hair color. The novel stimulus material consisted of one Caucasian male face, mixed race female face, mixed race male face, and Caucasian female face presented to the participants with identical hair color for each face. The survey had same set of ratings from 1-7 (7 being the extremely attractive, friendly and intelligent) and every stimulus faces were rated on their level of attractiveness, friendliness and intelligence. There were also questions about the participant's age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation (Appendix A). Only Caucasian faces were analyzed for the purposes of this experiment to avoid the potential confound of using hair colors that appear unnatural for mixed race faces. We also did not analyze friendliness or attractiveness ratings as our focus for this experiment was only intelligence. A consent form was given to all the participants discussing the purpose of the experiment to people's first impressionbut no revealing the hypothesis of the study.
The experiment took place in November 2012. Researchers discussed the stimulus material on Sunday, before the day of the experiment, and decided to conduct the research on weekdays instead of weekend. The researchers with the instructor discussed on the average type of stimulus faces and hair colors to be used for this research. Stimulus faces were generated using PsychoMorph, all faces had symmetrical and gender-appropriate features in order to appear attractive. Hair and hair color was generated using Taaz.com Makeover software (www.taaz.com/makeover).Then also discussed how the participants would rate the stimulus faces on their attractiveness, friendliness and intelligence. The researchers disbursed through various locations i.e. Hunter College and work place surveying the students and coworkers. Participants were selected through convenience sample in each of the locations. All the participants filled out a consent form prior to rating the faces, stating that the purpose of the research was to investigate people's first impressions. The researchers handed out the novel stimulus material to the participants and were asked to rate the stimulus faces from 1-7 on attractiveness, friendliness and intelligence. Each participant was surveyed only on one set of hair color and the same procedure followed for rest of the hair colors for each participant. Each participant was given only one survey and after the survey was handed back to the researcher, they noted each participant's hair color as either blonde, brown/black, red and other. After the survey was collected, the researchers inputted their own data on SPSS and then all the data was merged into one to create a larger sample. For inferential statistics, report that we ran a one way between subjects ANOVA and Tukey post-hoc tests for intelligence of all Caucasian faces.
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A one way between subjects ANOVA was conducted to test the differences between Caucasians with blonde, red, or brown/dark hair on intelligence. Our results showed us the effect of hair color on intelligence in males F (2, 250) = .53, p = .15 and in females F (2, 250) = 5.51, p = .08. For males, a post-hoc Tukey test compared the three groups, revealing no significant difference in perceived intelligence between Caucasian males with blonde hair (M = 4.52, SD = 1.36), dark hair (M = 4.71, SD = 1.13), or red hair (M = 4.57, SD = 1.22). For females, a post-hoc Tukey test compared the three groups, revealing that brunette Caucasian females (M = 5.25, SD = 1.27) were rated as more intelligent than blondes (M = 4.61, SD = 1.53), p = 0.006 and redheads (M = 4.73, SD = 1.24), p = 0.03.There was no significant difference between intelligence ratings of blondes and red-heads (p = 8.4).
Overall, Caucasian females with dark hair were perceived as more intelligent than females with blonde or red hair. Male perceived intelligence ratings were not significantly affected by hair color.