The effect of appearance on self-perceptions


Requests for reprints should be sent to James D. Laird, Department of Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, Mass. 01610.


The effect of appearance on interpersonal judgments has been demonstrated frequently. Self-perception theory suggests that any variable, such as appearance, that affects our impressions of others may also affect our impressions of self. In a test of this proposition, subjects completed the Hidden Figures Test and the vocabulary subscales from the WAIS and Binet Intelligence Tests with eyeglasses on and eyeglasses off. Wearing glasses did not affect actual performance, but subjects believed that they had performed better when wearing glasses. They also described themselves as more stable, scholarly, competent, and so on, when wearing glasses. Consistent with other work on individual differences in self-perception, these effects occurred only among subjects designated as more responsive to self-produced cues. Subjects more responsive to situational cues were unaffected by the eyeglass manipulations.