November 2, 2005

Study Shows Looks Speak Louder Than Actions

CLEVELAND, OH -- Redheads are hot-tempered. Nerds wear glasses. Characterizing people by their looks is nothing new. But according to a study out of Case Western Reserve University, such characterizations reach beyond our intellectual understanding of events all the way down to our beliefs about good and evil.

The study asked 500 men to draw a picture of a good man and describe that man.

Good man drawings

Certain characteristics were common to all of the drawings: curly, mussed blond hair, and a devil-may-care expression. Participants described the good man as strong, entitled, and forthright.

The study then asked the same 500 men to draw a picture of an evil man and describe him.

Evil man drawings

Common characteristics included dark hair and a goatee. Participants described the evil man as overbearing, indulged, and rude.

The second phase of the study divided the 500 men into two groups and read them the following scenario:

“Joe goes to a restaurant and orders a T-bone steak, well-done. When a sirloin steak, cooked medium-rare arrives at his table, Joe sends the steak back, asking for the order to be corrected.”

Group A was shown a picture of Joe that looked like the prototypical Good Man, while Group B was shown a picture that looked like the Evil Man. Both groups were asked their impressions on the story.

Group A, who had seen Good Joe, thought Joe had been badly mistreated and worried that he might suffer from indigestion or not want to return to the restaurant. Some thought the restaurant should give him gift certificates to tie him up as a long-term customer.

Group B, who had been shown Bad Joe, thought Joe shouldn't have complained about the mix-up but just eaten what he was given because he'd ordered a better meal than he deserved. Some blamed him for depriving someone else of the sirloin. Most hoped he would not return to the restaurant. One continually shouted, “Stop the bad man!”

“The implications are stunning,” said Dr. Frank O. Fill, head psychology researcher on the project. “We've always known that stereotypes are powerful, but to think that what you do doesn't matter at all because people will interpret your actions in a way that is consistent with their preconceived notions…” Dr. Fill trailed off.

“I'm just glad I'm not dark-haired,” said the strawberry blond Fill. “Now get out of my office. I have work to do.”

Dr. Fill plans more studies in the coming months, including determining the perception of short, round Puerto Rican men.

4 comments to “Study Shows Looks Speak Louder Than Actions”

  1. Joel says:

    And all along I thought I liked Dunn because he was a good hitter. I’ll never trust my brain again. (feel free to make fun of that funny girl who surely has dark hair and a goatee).

  2. tatanka says:

    Well done. What’s funny is that, halfway through reading the story, I really thought it was true, and that the Dunn/Aurilia parallels were just a coincidence. Maybe I’ll never understand satire.

    But you’re right, though. After getting off to a bad start, Rich seemed to become something of a whipping boy when others got a free pass. When he voiced his displeasure in not getting playing time, people accused him of, among other things, being selfish, egotistical, and a steroid user. From the 6-part Reds chat you guys had, Mama, you seemed to be the only one who defended him.

    On a not-so-unrelated note, I’ve always thought that guys who look like Aurilia–dark hair, goatee… you know, Jason Varitek-esque guys–resemble what I envision Satan looks like. I’m not implying anything by that. Rich just happens to _look_ like evil incarnate, and thus we are allowed to hate him.

  3. JD Arney says:

    Rich Aurilia sucks at eating in restaurants. [url=]Felipe Lopez wants steak.[/url]

  4. Red Hot Mama says:

    Joelsha — Aurilia’s a good hitter too. What does your brain say about that? PS – I just shaved this morning, so ha!

    tatanka — I don’t think that not realizing something is satire right away means you don’t understand it. I interpret that action to mean I write excellent satire. 😀

    Definitely the dark goatee carries an evil connotation. Whether that was the cause or effect of Evil Spock, we’ll never really know.

    JD — Lopez is doing just fine in the steak department these days. You can stop growling at everyone else in the restaurant.