In a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers found that students are more open to participate in school activities and expect to earn higher grades when they view their teacher as attractive. The findings provide evidence that children’s perception of teacher attire attractiveness is related to important school outcomes.
Previous research has shown that people who are viewed as physically attractive are perceived as more competent. Additionally, facial and vocal attractiveness have been shown to impact economic decision making. Research also indicates that teachers’ attire is correlated with students’ perception of their teacher’s responsibility, status, authority, competence, and success.
But little research has investigated the impact that teachers’ attire has on students’ school performance. For their new study, Marius Marici and his colleagues were interested in investigating how teachers’ attire affected students’ perception of their teachers’ personality and behaviors.
Marici and colleagues recruited 173 students from Suceava and nearby villages in Romania who were 9 to 14 years old. The gender distribution consisted of 84 boys and 89 girls.
The participants first viewed one of two photographs of a female teacher. The two photographs featured the same model, a 24-year-old teacher from Suceava, wearing different clothing items. The attractiveness of the photographs had previously been evaluated in a pilot study. Based on the evaluations, the most attractive and least attractive photos were selected for the study.
“Although the purpose of the pilot study was not to classify teachers’ attire in two categories, based on the clothing indicators, it can be easily concluded that the attractive photo represents the formal business attire, while the unattractive photo is closer to the casual style,” the researchers explained.
The students then listened to a 6-minute audio recording, and were told that the woman who was narrating was the teacher in the picture. They then filled out questionnaires. Participants’ perception of their teachers’ personality were measured via The Rokeach Value Survey scale, evaluation of the quality of teaching was measured via The Instructor Evaluation scale, and participants responded to additional items created by Marici and colleagues.
The results showed significant differences in children’s perception of the teacher’s personality, teaching quality, expected grades, students’ openness to school activities, and the teacher’s age based on their perception of the teacher’s clothing attractiveness.
Students were willing to do extra homework, listen more attentively in class, and stay long after school for training and after-school classes when they perceived their teacher as attractive. Marici and colleagues also found that the attractive teacher was more likely to be rated as having a positive personality and higher teaching quality. Participants tended to expect to earn higher grades from from the more attractive teacher.
In the more attractive photograph, the teacher was perceived to be 26.9 years old on average, while in the less attractive photograph, the teacher was perceived to be 38.4 years old on average.
Marici and colleagues argue that their findings suggest that students’ perception of their teachers level of attractiveness impacts important aspects of school, including the perception of quality of teaching, expected grades, and openness to learning and extracurricular activities. Marici and colleagues also posit that teachers’ dress codes should require appealing attire since there appears to be a positive effect on students.
“Teachers have a respectable profession and they teach because it is supposed that they love students, their profession and their school subject. Teachers are expected to be good models in all areas of life and teach for the educational outcome, and their attire serves this purpose,” the researchers wrote.
Marici and colleagues said that future research could explore other aspects of teacher attractiveness, including gender, teaching style, facial attractiveness, or voice characteristics. Additionally, further investigation is needed to understand the mechanisms through which teachers’ attire influences students.
The study, “The effect of attire attractiveness on students’ perception of their teachers“, was authored by Marius Marici, Remus Runcan, Iasmina Iosim, and Alexandra Haisan.