WEIGHT AS A FACTOR IN THE EVALUATION OF COLLEGE FRESHMEN ESSAYS
The purpose of the study was to give an indication of how an individual's weight influences the judgments made of this individual by others in his/her environment. Furthermore, the study was designed to provide such an assessment while controlling the quality of the performance being evaluated. Subjects were asked to read an essay and evaluate it along eight dimensions. The variables manipulated in the study were essay quality (high and low), weight of the writer (ideal and obese), sex of the writer and sex of the evaluator. These variables were used to test the following major hypotheses, each stated in experimental form. (1) The essay and writer evaluation scores will be significantly related to the weight of the writer. (2) The difference between the evaluation scores for obese and ideal weight writers will be significantly higher with low quality essays than with high quality essays. (3) The difference observed on the evaluation scores for obese and ideal weight writers will be a function of both the writer's sex and the evaluator's sex.
Of the several determinants of interpersonal attraction, one very powerful factor appears to be physical attractiveness. Our reactions to individuals are often highly influenced by factors related to physical appearance. Individuals can acquire misleading stereotypes based on such external cues. A factor related to physical attractiveness, which has received only minimal research attention, in terms of perceptions and judgments, is the weight of the individual. Physical attractiveness and the factor of weight are related in that both provide examples of how external characteristics influence the judgments we make and the judgments we receive.
The subjects were 160 (80 males, 80 females) volunteer undergraduate, dormitory students at Marquette University. The study was conducted in various dormitory lounges on the Marquette campus. Each experimental session was conducted within a 20 minute period.
Subjects evaluated the essay he/she read on the evaluation form provided by the experimenter. The form consisted of eight 9-point rating scales labeled at the endpoints. The evaluation process yielded four dependent measures, two in relation to the essay (performance) evaluation and two in relation to the writer (performer) evaluation.
The design employed was a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 completely random factorial design, resulting in 16 experimental conditions. The four dependent variables were individually analyzed with a "fixed effects" model ANOVA, at the .05 level of significance. Statistically significant relationships were further evaluated in terms of the strength of the relationship with the omega square coefficient.
Within the design of this study it was found that obese essay writers received lower essay and writer evaluation scores compared to writers of ideal weight (Hypothesis 1). It was also found that writer's weight had a greater impact on evaluation scores when the quality of the performance was low than when the quality was high (Hypothesis 2). The results with respect to hypothesis 3 (weight x writer's sex x reader's sex interaction) were not statistically significant.
The results indicated, that in this study, weight was a factor in the evaluation of college freshmen essays. The limitations, conclusions and implications of the study, along with recommendations for future research were also presented.