Brief Report: Women's Hair Color and Donations: Blonds Receive More Money

By Gueguen, Nicolas | North American Journal of Psychology, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Brief Report: Women's Hair Color and Donations: Blonds Receive More Money


Gueguen, Nicolas, North American Journal of Psychology


Although hair style and color are a common striking and obvious feature of appearance, psychological research which focuses on women's hair and particularly on women's hair color has received little attention (Hinsz, Matz, & Patience, 2001). It has often been suggested in popular culture that men find women with lighter colored hair to be more attractive. However, when we examined the literature concerning the effect of hair color on helping behavior, it was found that this assumption concerning a preference for women with lighter colored hair was not always verified. Juni and Roth (1985) asked male and female confederates to approach men and women in the street and to solicit them for spare change. Confederates either wore brunette wigs or blond wigs. Results showed that the hair color of the male and female confederates did not affect helping behavior for both male and female participants. These results did not support the hypothesis of the authors that blond hair could influence helping behavior. However, further studies showed the reverse effect. Price (2008) found that blond female door-to-door fundraisers received more donations than their brunette counterparts. Lynn (2009) solicited waitresses to complete an on-line survey about their physical characteristics, self-perceived attractiveness and sexiness, and average tips earned. It was found that higher waitresses' tips were associated with having blond hair. Recently, Gueguen and Lamy (2009) instructed 20 to 22-year-old female confederates to hitchhike while wearing a blond, brown or black wig. It was found that blond hair, compared to brown hair or black hair, was associated with a small but significant increase in the number of male drivers who stopped to offer a ride whereas no effect for hair color was found on the female drivers who stopped.

Inconsistent results have been found in the literature; some studies have found a positive effect of blond colored hair on helping behavior (Gueguen & Lamy, 2009; Lynn, 2009; Price, 2008) while one study found no effect (Juni & Roth, 1985). The difference may be explained by methodological reasons. First, in Lynn's study and in Price's study, the method used was correlational and the authors did not control for the age of the women, the length of their hair, race, etc., which are also factors that could explain the positive effect of hair color on people's behavior. In Gueguen and Lamy's study and in Juni and Roth's study, the authors used an experimental design. However, In Juni and Roth's study, the sample size tested by each confederate was very small (9 pedestrians) and the attractiveness of the two female confederates was not controlled. In Gueguen and Lamy's study, the authors did not control for possible confounding variables related to attractiveness, such as makeup or clothing appearance. Makeup and clothing appearance are associated with variations in helping behavior toward women (Jacob, Gueguen, Boulbry, Ardicioni, 2009; Long, Mueller, Wyers, & Jones, 1996).

Given such possible confounding variables found in the literature on hair color, there is a need for a more controlled study and with large sample sizes. In the present study, female confederates wearing blond, brown or dark colored wigs solicited large sample sizes of male and female pedestrians for a donation in the context of a fundraising drive. It was hypothesized that men would comply more than women with a request coming from a woman with blond colored hair.

METHOD

Participants

The participants were 1200 men and 1200 women (between the age of approximately 25 and 60) chosen at random while they were walking alone in pedestrian areas in a medium-sized town (more than 70,000 inhabitants) located in the west of France on the Atlantic coast of Brittany. The town traditionally draws a lot of tourists. The experiment was carried out in several places with heavy pedestrian traffic (stores crowded with customers, famous historic buildings, and the central post office). …

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