Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Communicator physical attractiveness and persuasion

Switch on your TV and stay a few minutes in front of it watching the different ads that are display on it. Is there any unattractive person on them? Most probably the answer will be no. Different studies have been made related to attractiveness and persuasion.

Mills and Aronson (1965). Found that the communicator of a persuasive message’s expression of a desire to influence others improved her persuasiveness when she was attractive. Furthermore, Chaiken. Eagly, Sejwacz, Gregory and Christensen (1978) said that the persuasive impact of attractive people depende on the sexual composition of the communicator-recipient dyad and on the recepients anticipation of interacting with the communicator.

The present study hypothesized that attractive communicators will be more persuasive than unattractive ones.  They also suggested that attractive subjects will be more persuasive than unattractive ones because they have communication skills or other attributes that makes them effective communicators. They based this on the idea that attractiveness covaries naturally with other factors.

In this study they participate 68 communicators-subjects (17 per sex/attractiveness level) and 272 target-subjects (2 female and 2 male targets per communicator). The communicators should deliver a persuasive message to students that they will approach and these ones will complete an opinion survey. They indicated their agreement with the message’s overall position and they also rated the communicator’s friendliness, knowledgeability and attractiveness. Moreover, communicators had to fill in a questionnaire indicating different personal characteristic, in order to address individual differences measures.

This table displayed in the result section shows the main effect of the communicator´s attractiveness and target sex. We can see that attractive communicators elicited more agreement from targets than did the unattractive individuals. Also sex difference can be found, as female targets expressed greater agreement than male targets and female communicators were rated as more attractive.

They also found that attractive and unattractive people differ on other dimension than only physical appearance. Attractive individuals were more faster and fluent speakers than unattractive ones. Moreover, attractive communicators tended to have higher marks on two educational accomplishment index, and also they describe themselves more favourably along several dimensions that may shape certain aspects of self-concept.

As a conclusion, they obtained the attractiveness effect on persuasion on verbal and behavioural measure and attractiveness didn’t interact with the communicator or target sex to affect the agreement number.  Finally, communicators differed in several communication skills and attributes related to persuasiveness. This is, attractive people will be more persuasive because they have characteristic that makes them more effective as communicators.


Mills, J., & Aronson, E. Opinion change as a function of the communicator's attractiveness and desire to influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1965,1, 173-177.

Chaiken, S., Eagly, A. H., Sejwacz, D., Gregory, W. L., & Christensen, D. Communicator physical attractiveness as a determinant of opinion change. JSAS Catalog oj Selected Documents in Psychology, 1978, S. (Ms. No. 1639)

Horai, J., Naccari, N., & Fatoullah, E. The effects of expertise and physical attractiveness upon opinion agreement and liking. Sociometry, 1974, 37, 601-606.

1 comment:

  1. Great choice of research, just watch the writing to ensure clarity!


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