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Beddow, Hymes and McAuslan Essay (Critical Writing)

Beddow, M., Hymes, R. & McAuslan, P. (2011). Hair color stereotypes and their associated perceptions in relationships and the workplace. PSI CHI Journal of Undergraduate Research, 16(1), 1089-4136.


A number of researches on hair color stereotypes and their associated perceptions prompted the current research. For instance, a research conducted by Lawson (1971) on hair color preferences enlightened on the affinity of certain colors.

Clayson and Klassen (1989) also confirmed this enlightenment when they found differing perceptions towards various models presented in the study. Another important study was done by Feinman and Gill (1978) indicating that color preference might not be affected by gender. However, hair color of the population majority is preferred as Thelen (1983) found out.

Other previous studies this topic focused on personality trait perceptions such as that done by Weir and Fine-Davis (1989) who found that people tend to perceive blondes as more popular, feminine and beautiful than brunettes and redheads. Rich and Cash (1993) reinforced the study by showing that broads were more popular and appeared more frequently in magazines.

For hostility towards redheads, Heckert and Best (1997) reaffirmed the earlier study by Weir and Fine-Davis and extended to show that people perceive redheads to be exceptionally smart despite other perceptions. Kyle and Mahler (1996) contradicted some of the earlier findings by showing that people perceive brunettes to be competent and intelligent than blondes and red heads. Apparently, it is due to this lack of consistency in previous studies that promoted the current research.

In order to have a defined focus of the study, Beddow, Hymes and McAuslan developed three hypotheses. First, they hypothesized that certain personality traits would be perceptually related to a certain hair color: that the participants would find blondes more attractive, feminine and immature; brunettes more intelligent, successful, mature and stronger work ethics; and redheads more aggressive and emotional.

Second, they hypothesized that the male and female models with brown hair would be viewed more favorably in the work setting than in the date setting. Third, it was hypothesized that the typical stereotypes associated with hair color would become stronger when combined with situations common to these stereotypes. Indeed, the main goal of the study is to enrich the previous research by examining the effects of stereotypes with respect to hair color, setting and gender.


The tested sample consisted of 180 participants all of which were undergraduate students from a Midwestern university. These participants were of varying ages, from different ethnic groups, wore different hair colors and had completed an introductory level psychology course.

For this qualitative study, the researchers examined the perception of the participants towards three color models with respect to work ethics, maturity, emotional, success and aggressiveness within the work and dating setting. This means that the variables included the three color models, work ethics, maturity, emotional, success and aggressiveness.

The study design was a correlation in which the researchers compared some variables against others. Specifically, the authors attempted to investigate the relationship between specific hair colors and certain qualities including work ethic, maturity, emotional, success and aggressiveness. The study was also designed to compare the outcome on two broader circumstances: working and dating setting.

The study procedure involved the development of questionnaire packets which directed the participants to pretend that they had visited a social network site to search for information about male and female target of the model. The participants then rated the individual models shown on the projector screen according to the directed scenario in the questionnaire packet. Later, the participants completed a brief demographic questionnaire.


The results supported hypothesis number one that differential perceptions associated with hair color do exist. In regard to blonde hair stereotypes, the participants in this study considered blondes as more mature in a dating setting. For brown hair stereotypes, participants rated brown-haired men as the most masculine.

The results also supported hypothesis number two that brown hair models would be viewed more favorably in the work setting than in the date setting. For the models, the participants perceived that the blonde model was the least successful in the worker setting while the brown and red hair as the most successful in the same setting.

Similarly, the brown hair models were perceived to be competent and industrious which suggests that that an emotional display in the workplace setting would contradict these qualities. Indeed, the brown haired model was perceived to be the most successful in work setting, consistent with the general stereotypes of competence and intelligence, thus resulting in success.

The results also supported hypothesis number three that stereotypes associated with hair color would become stronger when combined with situations common to these stereotypes. For instance, temperamental redhead stereotype manifested itself in the participants, contrasting itself with the blonde model. However, the finding that failed to support hypothesis three as the participants did not perceive blondes to be more attractive in the dating setting as hypothesized.


The researchers interpreted data in terms of probability and standard deviations of the measures associated with variables. For instance, a worker ethic measure with a standard deviation more than 1.00 was generally considered high as well as a probability greater than 0.01.

However, in correlating two variables, the authors considered a difference in the range of 1 percent. In essence, a difference of 0.01 in standard deviation was a significant comparative measure. For instance, the authors regarded the gender models as having a variation in work ethic simply because the difference in standard deviation between male and female model was 0.01 (1.32-1.31).

The major findings were that the blonde hair models were mature in dating implying dating experience. This aligns with the previous studies that blonde haired models stereotypes are attractive and flirts by the fact that the greater dating experience make them feel more uncomfortable.

Regarding the brown haired models, the findings suggest that men are most masculine, competent and industrious which coincides with the previous studies. For instance, the success in work setting reflects a research done by Takeda et al (2006) which showed that blondes are underrepresented in the workforce. The findings also indicate that the red haired models are temperamental and aggressive in nature which is also in harmony with previous studies (Feinman & Gill, 1978).

Critical reaction

The authors’ logic is sound and clear as depicted in the flow of the arguments. From the start, they highlight the purpose of the research as to enrich the previous studies by examining the effects of the hair color stereotype. This is followed by their reasoning that the previous studies identified the stereotypes but did not consider their effects.

Through the analysis of data collected from a diverse sample that can represent the entire population, the authors demonstrate the different effects of various stereotypes identified in the literature. The data is logically analyzed for individual models with reference to the perception of the participants.

The hypotheses developed by the authors are clear because they confirm the focus of the study and the variables relevant to the study. In harmony with the aim of the study, these hypotheses attempt to test the findings of the previous literature.

The various researches presented in the literature are adequate enough to suggest a deficiency in research pertaining to the effects of hair color stereotypes that were identified long time ago. However, the research articles used are not current and one may be compelled to assume that the authors omitted the contribution of contemporary gurus in this area.

The various variables included in this study are work ethic, maturity, emotional, success and aggressiveness. This collection however, omitted several important variables including goal commitment, interaction and defiance. These variables might be important in future studies due to their direct relationship with the human way of thinking.

With a particular focus on working and dating setting, the three variables are perceived by people as success factors. Therefore, it is justified to suggest that hair color stereotypes will be influenced greatly by these variables.

The sample tested by Beddow, Hymes and McAuslan was appropriate for this study due to two key reasons. First, the sample was diverse in various characteristics that may influence human perception such as ethnicity and age. Second, the sample comprised of participants who had psychological freedom to give genuine responses after undergoing the physiological course. These facts suggest that the sample could represent the population that the authors based their conclusions on.

The results of this study suggest that further research is needed on this topic because it is clear that the subjects were not exhausted. For instance, the findings were not enough to determine whether the participants perceived brown haired model to be more aggressive than the red haired models. In addition, there could be gaps in this research associated with the scale used to measure the results and the reliability of the instruments is not determined.

A follow-up to this study may perhaps use a new methodology that can correlate the stereotype results of this study with other studies related to the topic. This methodology should have the capacity to identify the most relevant variables to study through experimental approaches.

For instance, hypothesizing that the relationship between hair color stereotypes and the variables (work ethic, maturity, emotional, success and aggressiveness) is defined by other factors (commitment, interaction and defiance) would serve to include other relevant variables pertinent to human perceptions.

In connection to coursework, this article reflects the various components of a research paper in addition to the issues that are emended in psychology topics which need research attention. The first and important thing in a research is to select a researchable topic.

This topic will then determine the research focus in reviewing the literature as well as the deficiencies and weaknesses existing in the literature which require further consideration. Moreover, the article is important to a psychology student as a source of motivation for research. The authors have developed a research problem by simply acknowledging the efforts of other researchers.

This study implies to the general public in that, it facilitates the understanding on how to categorize the people around them. Naturally, it is important to comprehend what surrounds us and appreciate what others can offer in order to live in harmony. Perhaps by understanding the hair color stereotypes, we avoid laying blame on individuals based on our observation. This is because people justify actions differently. Therefore, this study advices us to reach a viable conclusion before judging others and imposing penalties.


Beddow, M., Hymes, R. & McAuslan, P. (2011). Hair color stereotypes and their associated perceptions in relationships and the workplace. PSI CHI Journal of Undergraduate Research, 16(1), 1089-4136.

Clayson, D. E. & Klassen, M. L. (1989). Perception of attractiveness by obesity and hair color. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 68(1), 199-202.

Feinman, S. & Gill, G. W. (1978). Sex differences in physical attractiveness preferences. The Journal of Social Psychology, 105(1), 43-52.

Heckert, D. M. & Best, A. (1997). Ugly duckling to swan: labeling theory and the stigmatization of red hair. Symbolic Interaction, 20(4), 365-384.

Kyle, D. J. & Mahler, H. I. (1996). The effects of hair color and cosmetic use on perceptions of female’s ability. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20(3), 447-455.

Lawson, E. D. (1971). Hair color, personality and the observer. Psychological Reports, 28(1), 311-312.

Rich, M. K. & Cash, T. F. (1993). The American image of beauty: media representations of hair color for four decades. Sex Roles, 29(1-2), 113-124.

Takeda, M. B, Helms, M. M. & Romanova, N. (2006). Hair color stereotyping and CEO selection in the United Kingdom. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13(3), 85-99.

Thelen, T. H. (1983). Minority type human mate preference. Social Biology, 30(2), 162-180.

Weir, S. & Fine-Davis, M. (1989). ‘Dumb blonde’ and ‘temperamental redhead’: the effect of hair colour on some attributed personality characteristic of women. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 11-19.

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