Investigated whether people attribute the same personality-trait characteristics to culturally desirable others as they attribute to themselves. 66 undergraduates were exposed to slides depicting facial photographs of college-aged females whose physical attractiveness was systematically varied (high, average, low). They were asked to rate both themselves and each target on an array of positive, neutral, and negative trait descriptors. Ss assumed that greater similarity existed between themselves and attractive others than between themselves and less attractive others. Findings are paralleled on a measure of assumed overall similarity. It is also shown that the pattern of self-ratings made on neutral traits corresponded more closely to the pattern of ratings assigned to attractive others than to that assigned to unattractive others. Finally, attractive persons were desired as friends more than were average or unattractive persons. Findings are discussed in terms of motivational vs nonmotivational interpretations of trait attribution effects.
Source: “Effect of targets’ physical attractiveness on assumptions of similarity” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 41, Issue 1, July 1981, Pages 198-206