Do better looking students get better grades?

You bet they do …



Prof Robert Kaplan of San Diego State University conducted an experiment:

Faculty subjects were asked to grade an essay written by a student.

A photograph of the student was attached to the essay.

The grade given for the essay correlated strongly with a subjective attractiveness scale evaluated by other judges.

What is interesting is that all the subjects received the exact same essay, and the photograph attached to it was randomly assigned.

Bottom line: physical attractiveness causes graders to give essay writers better scores on their essays.

Here’s what’s going on …



According to Douglas Hubbard in “Measure Anything”

This is an example of the so-called “halo effect”

If people first see one attribute that predisposes them to favor or disfavor one alternative, they are more likely to interpret additional subsequent information in a way that supports their conclusion, regardless of what the additional information is.

For example, if you initially have a positive impression of a person, you are likely to interpret additional information about that person in a positive light (the halo effect).

Likewise, an initially negative impression has the opposite effect (the horns effect).

This effect occurs even when the initially perceived positive or negative attribute should be unrelated to subsequent evaluations.

For the  most memorable example of the halo effect see Biases: The “halo effect” … rock on, sister!


So what?

For teachers: Code submissions with student ID numbers (instead of names) to ensure grading is strictly “blind”.

For students: Since teachers are unlikely to blind-grade, create a positive impression … spiff up for class (dress neatly, comb your hair) and act interested …



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