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Physical Attractiveness Of Defendant


The reason for the exploration was to find out if the physical elegance of a defendant has an impact of the severity of prison sentences given for a offense of fraud.

An opportunity sample comprising 10 males and 10 females extracted from sixth form students at school aged 16-18 was used. A criminal offense vignette was given to members with a photography of the physically attractive defendant or in physical form un attractive defendant attached. Participants experienced to state if they thought the defendant was guilty or not guilty. Participants were then informed that the defendants were found guilty and were asked to assign a prison term that they thought the defendant deserved.

The Chi-Square and T-Test were used to analyse the results. Observed Value of T= 30. 88: Critical value at p<0. 05 is 1. 734. It had been figured the physical attractive defendants were given shorter prison sentences than the physically un attractive defendants.

Project Brief


The target is to see if Sigall & Ostrove's (1975) conclusions that the physical elegance of a accused and the type of the offense can result in differing sentences are applicable to this current time frame.

Alternative hypothesis: The more appealing defendant will receive a lower phrase for burglary than the less attractive accused.

Null Hypothesis: You will see no difference long of sentences directed at the attractive accused and the non attractive defendant.


A directional hypothesis has been used as previous research by Sigall & Ostrove's (1975) has shown that physical appeal does have an impact on the distance of a sentence offering to the accused.


The chosen research method will be experimental using an independent actions design. So each group will be examined in some other condition one group will be shown a picture with a literally attractive defendant and the other group will dsicover a picture with a non attractive defendant.



  • Confounding parameters minimised
  • Study is within a manipulated environment therefore the parameters can be manipulated


  • No control of participant variables as credited to individuals dissimilarities the participants may well not find the pictures attractive.
  • There maybe a interpersonal desirability bias as members may put what they think is the norm or socially desired rather than what they actually think.
  • There maybe investigator and participant results.


Demand Characteristics

Participants may respond relating to experimenters desired response i. e. the experimenter may influence the participant in the manner in which he declares the circumstance of the crime or by subconscious gestures.

Age Group Bias

All individuals are between the age of 16-18 so results might not be exterior valid as other age ranges may have different results and respond in a different way.

Participant Bias

Participants can provide into sociable norms and may no give there true thoughts and opinions when rating. They may rate pictures higher or less than they sense.


Single Blind

The participants and the experimenter will be told that the study is on learning something apart from what there doing this the individuals and the experimenter wont have the ability to guess the aim of the analysis.

Standardise Instructions

All conditions of the analysis are given the same standardised instructions so investigator bias is taken away.

Social Desirability Bias

The results will be anonymous and confidential, providing the chance for the participants a option to withdraw anytime so the participants may not wish to put what the experimenter may see as typical.

PB7: 5% level of significance



Not sharing with the participants the true nature of the analysis by by using a single blind approach. This can be get over by debriefing the individuals at the end of the analysis to ensure that the members are happy.


The pictures will be taking from websites which are on open public domains so anyone can gain access to them.

Informed Consent

Participants will be asked if they want to get involved and told the essential methods as well i. e. providing the to withdraw etc.


Participants can withdraw anytime during the review and you will be told this throughout the study.


The individuals will be totally debriefed regarding the true goals of the study has been completed after the study.


The participants will not be observed.


None of the members names will be taken and they'll not be viewed during the review so the results will stay anonymous.


The Halo impact (Dion & Walster, 1972) is the trend of a quality such as physical appeal to influence an individual's perception of person's attributes such as cleverness, social status and personal traits. Research has found that attractive people are attributed with an increase of positive characteristics because of the Halo Result. Dion & Walster (1972) conducted an experiment called 'What is Beautiful is Good' and discovered that individuals who have emerged as bodily attractive are assumed by particpants to have more socially attractive personalities than those who find themselves less attractive, and it is also assumed that attractive individuals lives will be more successful and interesting than those who are less attractive. So attractive folks are assumed to become more sociably desired. Dion et als (1972) studies suggest that stereotyping scheduled to individuals physical elegance occurs as physical attractive individuals were considered to have more socially desired qualities and personalities, and were likely to have better personal success within life. These results have also been recognized by Griddin & Langlois (2006) and Feingold (1992) who discovered that unattractive people are perceived to carry more negative qualities.

The Halo result has been applied in research into other areas of society. For instance in university or workplaces. As a report on appeal in institution found by Clifford & Walster (1973) and Landy & Sigall (1974) found that two essays which got exactly the same content were marked differently. This is belived to be scheduled to them having pictures of the students on the essays and the more attractive person received an increased grade even although essays were the same. This shows that physical attractiveness will affect people's thought process in true to life settings. Another study has shown that the halo impact has an effect in job interviews as it has been found by Dipboye, Arvey, & Terpstra, (1977) and Landy & Sigall, (1974) that the more attractive individuals where much more likely to have the jobs offered than the unattractive individuals even though they performed the same on the tasks to find the interviews.

Baron and Byrne (1997) discovered that attractive defendants are more likely to receive lighter sentences and gain the sympathy of the jurors alternatively than unattractive individuals. This is believed to be due to the Halo Impact 'What is beautiful is good'. Sigall & Ostrove (1975) also discovered that participants who were shown an attractive photo of your defendant costed with burglary recommend almost half the common sentence of those show no photo or an unattractive photography. Stewart (1980) also found that attractive defendants tended to receive lighter sentences and were less likely to receive prison phrases than unattractive individuals. These results were further backed by Efrans (1974) review as Efran (1974) discovered that juries weren't as certain about the guilt of attractive defendants, and for that reason gave them lighter sentences/ punishments. However it has been found that there were different factors which effect the sentence providing with an attractive individual. For example the attractiveness of an individual didn't have a lot of an impact on phrases when the crime was viewed as very serious. Sigall & Ostrove (1975) also discovered that attractive defendants were priced with an increased average sentences when scams was the criminal offense rather than the unattractive individuals or accused with no image. Their results exhibited that whenever the crime dedicated wasn't related to physical appeal (e. g. burglary) the participants would give lighter sentences to the attractive accused somewhat than to the unattractive accused. In contrast when the crime was related to appeal (e. g. swindle), the physically attractive defendant would receive a worse phrase. The Halo Impact explains these conclusions in that when crimes are not related to appeal, the attractive individuals may be observed as good because of the Halo Effect and positive stereotyping. For the actually attractive offences the juror may believe that the attractive individuals used there appeal as a natural advantage to help expand promote themselves in population. Fraud is regarded as deceitful and relates to attractiveness thus more appealing defendants would be punished more severely.

Aim: This research will replicate Sigall & Ostrove's (1975) study to provide further support for past findings decide if the physical elegance of a accused and the type of the offense can result in differing phrases in this current time frame.

Alternative hypothesis: The more attractive defendant will get a lower phrase for burglary than the less attractive accused.

Null Hypothesis: You will see no difference long of sentences directed at the attractive accused and the non attractive defendant.


Method and design

In the experiment the IV is the physical appeal of the defendants and the DV was the judgement that the members gave the images of the literally attractive accused and unattractive defendant i. e. guilty or not guilty. An unbiased group design is being used so one band of participants will be tested with the literally attractive photo of the defendant and the other group will be tested with the unattractive photography of the defendant. A questionnaire was presented with to the male participants so scores of the photographs of the females could be gathered so the best voted picture would be used as the bodily attractive accused and the worse would be utilized for the unattractive accused.


One An even student collected data.

Target people and sample

An opportunity sample comprising 10 men and 10 females extracted from 6th form students at university. The students who had been available at enough time were asked to participate in the study. All participants got part in the study and do not require declined.


Pilot Study

Ten photos were determined from web sites Hot or Not and RatePeople. com labelling them 1 - 10. All images were put on to A4 pieces of newspaper (one per web page of paper). All photos were of passport photos so the defendants were looking directly at the camera and the defendants were between the age range of 20-40. This was controlled therefore the participant's view of the defendants didn't change because of the pose the defendant was doing or because they thought the defendant was to old and frail to go to jail or to young etc. There is as little jewellery or clothing in the pictures as you possibly can so that it wouldn't distort the members view on the pictures as it may make the participant think the defendants were more or less attractive in the images creating extraneous variable so this was done so that it was only the defendant's appeal being taken into account.

Main Study

In the key study a scenario was given to individuals (see Appendix 1) and the participants had to convey whether they thought the accused was guilty or not on the participant response sheet (see Appendix 2). Two photographs were used in the main study from the pilot study (the best ranked image and the most severe rated photography) that have been used as defendants. The very best voted picture was used as the actually attractive accused and the worse was used for the unattractive defendant.

An exemplory case of one of the photographs use is shown in Appendix 3.

Standardised procedures

Pilot Study

The individuals were considered into different rooms when concluding the duty so they weren't sidetracked from other students.

The standardised instructions (see Appendix 4) were read to individuals and consent was given.

Male individuals were shown the photos of the females, and the females were shown the images of the men. The members were asked to rate each of the photographs over a scale of just one 1 - 10, with 10 being most attractive and 1 being not so attractive. The individuals wrote their evaluations on some newspaper with spaces for the ratings for the 10 images No labels were requested. An example of a participant response is shown in Appendix 5.

Main Study

The best scored image and the most severe rated picture were than used as defendants. The best voted picture was used as the literally attractive accused and the worse was used for the unattractive accused.

A different group of participants where given situations and asked if they would provide a word to the defendant given to them and advised to down there answer on the participant response sheet.

One group was given the actually attractive image whereas the other group was presented with the unattractive picture.

Participants after the job were thanked and debriefed (see Appendix 6).


Investigator bias was minimised by using standardised instructions.

The Solo blind strategy was used so researcher bias, participant bias and demand quality were avoided by asking someone else to observe the participants during the task and informing the observer not to go through the individuals while they're doing the duty to avoid participant reactivity.

Participant bias was prevented by telling the participants to rate users of a reverse sex because the men could find it more challenging men in terms of physical elegance.


Informed consent was gained as individuals received standardised instructions and told that they had the right to withdraw at any time and this their answers would stay anonymous.

There was minimal deception as the participants weren't told the aim of the study but this was handled as the members were debriefed by the end of the study.

The ethical problem of using photos of people without there consent was handled as the photos used were put on websites where in fact the people want there photos to be rated thus are available to the general public.

Results: Descriptive Statistics

Summary stand of the info to show the full total range of guilty verdicts given to physically attractive and literally non-attractive defendant's. Members had to state whether they found the defendant directed at them guilty or not liable. A bar chart was drawn to display the results aesthetically.

Summary table of the data showing mean prison phrases in months honored to the attractive and non-attractive defendant's by the individuals. A bar chart was drawn to display the results aesthetically. The organic data given is at Appendix 7.

The Mean Length Of The Sentences Given To The Defendants

Physically Attractive: 21. 9 Weeks = 1. 8 Years

Physically Non-Attractive: 63. 6 Months = 5. 3 Years

Results: Inferential Statistics

The Chi-Square Ensure that you T-Test were used to analyse the results.

The Chi-Square Test was appropriate for the data at a nominal degree of measurement in a from of categories and the info collected from 3rd party measures.

Chi Square = 0. 26

Degrees of flexibility = 1

Critical value at p<0. 05 = 2. 71

As the noticed value of chi-square was smaller than the critical value at a 5% level of significance, we cannot reject the null hypothesis therefore it must be maintained.

The T-Test was appropriate for the info that was at a interval level of measurement in the form of numerical data as the info accumulated was from indie measures.

Observed value of T = 30. 88

Degrees of flexibility = 1

Critical value at p<0. 05 = 1. 734

As the noticed value of T is higher than the critical value of T at a 5% degree of significance the null hypothesis can be turned down.


Explanation of findings

The findings of this investigation discovered that the physical appeal of a accused can result in differing phrases. Overall the physically attractive accused received a lighter word than the physically unattractive accused. The T-Test was significant at the 0. 05 degree of significance supporting the assumption that the Halo effect will effect peoples views on whether a accused is guilty or innocent.

Relationship to record research

There has been plenty of research into whether the physical appeal can influence an individual's notion of person's features. Early on research such as Stewart (1980) discovered that attractive defendants tended to receive lighter phrases and were less inclined to receive prison phrases than unattractive individuals. Baron and Byrne (1997) also found that attractive defendants will receive lighter sentences and gain the sympathy of the jurors alternatively than unattractive individuals. This study supports these previous findings and in addition demonstrates this bias can lead to differing prison sentences being given to defendants even when the crime determined is the same.

This could be due to the halo effect gives the tendency of your characteristic such as physical attractiveness to influence a person's understanding of person's features such as intelligence, social status and personal traits. This creates beautiful stereotypes which doesn't match the criminal stereotype such as marks, looking dirty etc.

Although the results could be because the members generally presumed that the in physical form attractive accused was guilty and the actually unattractive defendant wasn't.

Limitations and modifications

The study lacks ecological validity as in true to life the individuals would be in a jury therefore there would be a dialogue between 12 folks of varying age ranges on the particular punishment the defendant should receive. Within this test 6th form students were used aged between 16-18 plus they made the decisions on there own alternatively than speaking about the defendants punishment. To boost this a simulated jury could be utilized where the experimenter asks 12 individuals to act as a jury and discuss the phrase.

Due to the participant sample used there is an sample bias as the study was on an opportunity test of 6th form students. So the results can't be generalised to the whole populace. There may have also been a problem credited to demand characteristics as participants may have guessed the aims of the study and could have known what results were expected and solved accordingly. Another restriction of the study was that the experimenter knew the participants, which means this may have lead the participants to jot down what they thought the 'normal' answer would be and not what they actually thought. So there might have been an sociable desirability bias. This could be handled by using a different target inhabitants and test.

Another limitation of the study is the fact some participants didn't find the unattractive accused guilty as they didn't believe that she would be capable of geting people into bed and so voted her not liable. Some participants also mentioned that they didn't think that there as enough proof to charge the defendants.

Another restriction of the analysis was individual distinctions as the study used independent solution design plus some individuals said they found the unattractive defendant guilty as they didn't like her whereas some individuals said they found the attractive defendant guilty as she was attractive whereas some said it was because she looked more promiscuous.

Another way to make future results more reliable is to do the analysis again but make the individuals be in sets of 12 like a real jury if the same results are found. This will be more reliable such as a genuine life juries would discuss the consequence before given defendants sentences.

Implications and ideas for future research

To make the results more reliable a larger test size could be utilized as this might mean that more data could be analysed and this may causes different results. Also a different age range could also lead to different results as the the elderly might take it more seriously.

The important implications of this research shows that there is a bias in phrases given to defendants and also to get rid of this bias juries may have to make there decisions by just looking at the study and perhaps not be able to see the defendant in courtroom as there's a screen in front of them and there tone is improved.

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