Term of Award

2002

Degree Name

Master's of Science

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Janice H. Kennedy

Committee Member 1

Janice N. Steirn

Committee Member 2

Paul R. Kleinginna

Committee Member 3

Richard L. Rogers

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine participants' perceptions of a child's attractiveness, social competence, intelligence, and aggression based on sex, race, and family structure of the child. A videotape of a three-year-old child was shown to participants. Information about the sex, race, and family structure of the child was manipulated. Hypotheses were: Participants would rate children perceived to be boys higher in aggression and higher on intelligence than children perceived to be girls. Participants would rate children perceived to be black more negatively on attractiveness, social competence, intelligence, and aggression than children perceived to be white. Participants were expected to rate children perceived to be from single-parent homes as less socially competent and lower in intelligence than children perceived to be from dualparent homes. White participants were expected to rate children perceived to be black more harshly on attractiveness, social competence, intelligence, and aggression than children perceived to be white. Participants who rated children high on attractiveness were also expected to rate them high on social competence and intelligence and low on aggression. Finally, participants were expected to rate boys' intelligence significantly higher than girls' intelligence. Results indicated that attractiveness ratings were consistent with previous literature showing attractive individuals are perceived as having other desirable traits, and that attractiveness ratings were related to the sex of the person being perceived where girls were rated higher in attractiveness than boys. Social competence ratings were contrary to previous research in that children in single-parent homes were rated as more socially competent than children in dual-parent homes. Children in single-parent homes were also rated as more attractive and received higher overall ratings than children in dual-parent homes. Intelligence ratings were in the opposite direction predicted in that girls were rated higher in intelligence than boys. When only the "black child" was considered, aggression ratings were affected by the sex of participant and the sex of child where men rated girls higher in aggression than did women.

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