Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Previous research has indicated that physical attractiveness affects impression formation and interpersonal attraction in a wide variety of social situations. However, little is known about the effect of physical attractiveness in the counseling situation. Still other research has indicated that effective counseling training enhances the possibility of effective therapy. Thus, one purpose of this study was to ascertain the effect of the physical attractiveness of a female counselor on university student subject’s evaluation of her warmth and competence. Another purpose of this study was to investigate if subjects' perceptions of the counselor were affected by the stimulus mode --either an audio-visual or an audio-only recording -- of the counseling situation. In a 2 (mode of presentation) by 3 (level of counselor attractiveness) by 2 (sex of subject) Analysis of Variance design, 60 male and 60 female subjects each judged the tape recording of one simulated counseling session in which the counselor’s appearance and behavior were controlled by using the same actress and client in all tapes and holding their verbal and non-verbal behaviors constant across all tapes. The results suggested that the attractive counselor was perceived as being more warm and competent than the unattractive counselor, but no significant differences were noted between the attractive and the moderate-attractive counselors, and only female subjects perceived the moderate counselor as being more competent than the unattractive counselor. The data also indicated that subjects who heard and saw the counselor perceived her as being less warm than subjects who merely heard but did not see the same counselor. Finally, female subjects perceived the counselor as being more competent than did male subjects. In general, the study (a) confirmed many previously reported attractiveness stereotype effects, but indicated the relationship between levels of attractiveness and stereotype effects may not be linear, and (b) indicated that mode of presentation may affect the subjects perceptions of the counselor.


Myron Boor

Date of Award

Fall 1978

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1978 F. Richard Zeis


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