Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Joshua Correll

Second Advisor

Richard Olson

Third Advisor

Amy Goodloe


Evolutionary psychologists often cite specific traits as vital to human attraction and survivability. However, some empirical and social controversy exists as to whether traits truly sway perceptions of attraction. In order to further investigate the ambiguous findings concerning the attractiveness of dominance and personality factors, we formed several hypotheses in alignment with evolutionary literature: (A) Perceived dominance will lead women to be judged as less attractive and men as more attractive. (B) Women will be judged as more attractive if they are rated higher in submissive Big Five personality traits and males will be judged as more attractive if they are rated higher in dominant personality traits. Finally, (C) target gender differences in ratings of dominance and personality will be larger if the participant is high in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and low on the Attitudes Toward Women scale (AWS). 103 online participants rated male and female target faces in dominance, personality, and attractiveness before rating themselves in personality, SDO, and AWS. No significant results emerged to support our hypotheses in the directions that we predicted. Dominance and attractiveness were slightly correlated for male (r = 0.14) and female (r = 0.25) targets. Moreover, there were no significant relationships between perceptions of attractiveness and personality. Participant SDO scores had no effect on target ratings, and participant AWS affected the ratings of only a couple personality traits. To interpret the lack of evolutionary preferences in our results, we turn to social models of attraction.