Document Type

Research Paper


The effect of race on attribution of personality characteristics and desirability to date was investigated. Subjects included 60 students (46 females; 14 males) enrolled in classes at a small, privet liberal arts college. Participants were traditional aged students ranging from age 18 to 23, belonging to the Caucasian race. Subjects were informed of the test procedure and willingly agreed to participate by signing a consent form. Subjects were given profiles of hypothetical individuals, one male, one female, describing their background, activities, and physical appearance. The control condition received no picture, while the first experimental group received pictures of an attractive Caucasian male and female, and second experimental group received pictures of an African American male and female considered to be of equal attractiveness to the Caucasian pictures given to the first condition. Based on the sum total of the information given, participants were asked to answer a 12 item questionnaire that rated the hypothetical individual in terms of personality traits and desirability to date. Rating consisted of a five-point scale, one being the best rating, five being the worst. The subjects' opinion of the hypothetical individual and their desire to date them was measured by how high they rated them on the questionnaire. It was hypothesized that the subjects in all three conditions would rate the hypothetical individual similarly in terms of personality traits, but that the desire to date would be lower in the second condition (African American pictures) than in the control or first (Caucasian pictures) conditions. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with an alpha level of .05 was conducted for each of the 12 questionnaire items. Statistically significant results were found for desirability to date, F(2,57) = 3.197, p<.05. No statistically significant results were obtained for the remaining items (please refer to chart 1). Results indicate that while race may not have an effect on the attribution of personality traits, it is possible that it does affect the desirability to date.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference





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©1999 by the University of Northern Iowa



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University of Northern Iowa


Cedar Falls, IA