Overcoming Student Stereotypes about Physical Attractiveness

Byrnes, Deborah A.
May 1988
Education Digest;May1988, Vol. 53 Issue 9, p32
The article focuses on ways to overcome student stereotypes about physical attractiveness. Children and adults alike perceive physically attractive children as possessing more positive characteristics than physically unattractive children. Attractive children are considered more intelligent, successful, adjusted, and socially competent, and are expected to do well and be good. Unattractive children are more likely to be seen as dishonest, unpleasant, chronically antisocial, and having low self-concepts. As a result of these stereotypes, attractive children tend to have enhanced social opportunities whereas unattractive children have limited ones. Children and adults interact more positively with attractive individuals, and this begins as early as infancy. Attractive children receive more help, smiles, prosocial verbal comments, and physical affection. Attractiveness stereotypes appear to be more stringently applied to females than males. This is no doubt related to consistent messages in the culture that attractiveness is more important for women than men as a measure of personal worth.


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