Everything the Movies Taught You About Sororities is True

Everybody knows the stereotypes about sororities. They exemplify the worst kind of set-feminism-back-25-years popularity and attractiveness contests that put no weight on the quality of your personality or character. Well, a new study by researchers at Tufts and Dartmouth provides some support for the stereotype, especially for “high status” (i.e. more desirable) sororities.

Current sorority members were given 500 ms to view pictures of women who wanted to join their sororities, and were then asked how likely it was that each prospective member would receive a bid from their sorority (bid expectancy). Prospective members were also rated on their attractiveness. Data were analyzed separately for high- vs. low-status houses. Results revealed that attractiveness was more predictive of liking and bid expectancy for the high-status houses, as compared to the low-status houses.

I think an interesting follow up would be see if there is a causal link between being strongly influenced by attractiveness and higher status, and whether or not this link exists in other areas of society (e.g. the workplace). In other words, does placing a bigger emphasis on attractiveness actually raise the status of your organization?

The study had few other noteworthy findings. The low-status sororities were more likely to recruit women who the high-status sororities judged were unlikely to get a high-status bid. It seems that instead of targeting all the potential high-status recruits and hoping to land a few, the low-status sororities actively targeted the women they believed would not be recruited by high-status sororities.

And then there is the really shocking finding. Over 30% of the prospective sorority members contacted agreed to allow their student ID photos to be used in the experiment. Since when are college girls fine with giving away unflattering photos of themselves?
Krendl, A., Magoon, N., Hull, J., & Heatherton, T. (2011). Judging a Book by Its Cover: The Differential Impact of Attractiveness on Predicting One’s Acceptance to High- or Low-Status Social Groups Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41 (10), 2538-2550 DOI: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00824.x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s