On-Line Academic Study:

Niclas Berggren, an Economics Professor in Sweden, is doing an on-line academic study and is seeking international participation. If you have a few minutes, I hope you will participate. The link and password info is provided in the message below.

I am writing you to ask for your help in a scientific study I'm doing with Henrik Jordahl from Uppsala University and Panu Poutvaara from the University of Helsinki. We are studying differences in the perception of beauty and some related traits, and for this purpose we aim to recruit respondents from different countries.

Username: beautystudy

Password: qwerty

Please write VOLOKH as your city when replying to the survey, to indicate that you were invited at this site.

If you would like to receive an executive summary of our results, please write your email address at the end of the study and tick the appropriate box. The e-mail addresses are stored separately from replies.

Deadline for participation in the study is 30 November.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any further questions.

Many thanks for your time and help.

Best regards, Niclas Berggren

Please feel free to pass on the info to anyone else you know.

After logging in, an error message appears in German.
11.7.2005 8:04am
Positive Dennis:
Looks like Finish to me

Positive Dennis
11.7.2005 8:06am
I think it's Swedish (which would make sense). Something about being forbidden access? A "403,15" error. Could you let Prof. Berggren know that it's not working?
11.7.2005 8:26am
That's Swedish for "Too many people trying to log in right now."
11.7.2005 9:00am
Niclas Berggren (mail) (www):
The problem has now been solved. You do not need to login and use a password now: just go directly to the site. Please try again if your previous attempt was unsuccessful. We are very grateful for your participation!

Niclas Berggren
11.7.2005 9:07am
AppSocRes (mail):
I had no problem finishing the questionnaire, but the program appeared to hang (for about two minutes) and I then got a server error when I attempted to leave the site by clicking the button provided. If you didn't get my reponses, you may still have a problem.
11.7.2005 10:19am
tefta (mail):
Niclas, I just clicked your link above and got an error message.
11.7.2005 10:22am
IT Guy:
The link in Niclas's post above does not work, but the original link does.
11.7.2005 11:42am
Niclas Berggren (mail) (www):
The replies keep coming in! I thank all of you out there who participate in our study. The correct link can be found in Todd's original post, and it appears that the incorrect one given in my earlier comment here is due to the fact that I didn't enter "http://" first.

As for the problems reported by AppSocRes, I have consulted out computer programmer, and he thinks this was a temporary problem. You should be able to send in your replies without any problem.

Let me remind you to please enter VOLOKH as your city when you reply (this enables us to sort out who comes from here).


Niclas Berggren
11.7.2005 11:48am
SimonD (www):
I find it extraoridinary - weird, in fact - to be asked to evaluate factors like intelligence, trustworthiness or competance based on someone's physical appearence. On a mug shot even! I just don't see the connection, or understand how we're supposed to make any kind of evaluation of that sort of question on the information presented.
11.7.2005 1:34pm
mbeadles (mail):

Having some experience in psychological testing myself, I'll venture a guess at the answer.

Think about it: you aren't really being asked to evaluate the models' intelligence, trustworthiness, or competence. The models themselves, as people, are not going to be judged intelligent, trustworthy, or competent as a result of the experiment. It's not about them.

It's not even about you, as an individual.

Most likely it is a study of the correlation between how people in general judge someone's visual attractiveness and how they judge that same person's intelligence, trustworthiness, baby-facedness, etc., again based solely on visual appearance.

The study authors have made some prediction -- we don't know what -- of how those things might correlate with each other, and now they are testing that prediction to see if they are generally right or wrong about it.

For example, the authors might have predicted that people who are judged more attractive visually are also judged as more trustworthy. Or, for all we know, they may have predicted the opposite; that more attractive people are also judge to be less trustworthy. Or something else.

Regardless, this study is most likely an attempt to assess the validity of their prediction.

Or (this is the part where the psych testing experience really helps; hope I'm not giving out tricks of the trade)...the experiment is about NONE OF THE ABOVE. Insted, what they state is a red herring and really they are judging something such as how likely you are to click a link to a woman vs. a man; or whether red clothes are more attractive than black clothes; etc. This misdirection technique in studies is done quite a bit too. The idea is not to taint the study results by allowing people to censor their responses.

I've done studies where we tell people that we are, for example, studying the subjects' vocabulary ... when in reality we are studying their mental response times to textually presented information in different formats.

They may even be studying indignation! We'll find out when the study results come out.
11.7.2005 1:51pm
mbeadles (mail):
Oh, and by the way, Niclas...I did participate in the study and I was glad to help out!

11.7.2005 1:53pm
treezycat (mail):

Just doing the study made me realise just how prejudiced I was.
Why do I think attractive people are untrustworthy.
Why do I always think women are competent and men aren't.
This was an eye-opener.
11.7.2005 3:02pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
The survey seems to working fine now.

I was suprised that one photo moved me to answer one question in any way other than "average" on a paricular measure (all the others just made me shrug in that regard).
11.7.2005 4:23pm
Henry Schaffer (mail):
I couldn't get past the first picture/questions. I was able to guess at the subject's age, but didn't feel I could make any guess at intelligence, etc. But I couldn't go to the 2nd picture until I had checked a choice for every question.
11.7.2005 9:56pm
Dr. T (mail):
This was not a "beauty study." It is a very poorly designed study trying to assess perceived correlations between appearance and visually unknowable "characteristics" such as trustworthiness, competence, intelligence, etc. None of those characteristics can be determined reliably by looking at a person (except for identifying features commonly associated with mental retardation). Poor study design features include: 1. Photos that were too small (a few were very tiny) for reliable determination of age and beauty, 2. Questions that did not include a response such as "Unable to determine," 3. No requests for explanations of our selections, 4. Forced rankings of "characteristics" that can not be determined by looking at photos.

This study was a waste of time, and I am disappointed that it was recommended by Mr. Zywicki.
11.7.2005 10:04pm
Dr. T.,

1. Were they too small? I didn't find so.
2. Is unable to determine different from average? I'd think unable to determine would mean you can't reach a pre-conceived notion -- you'd have to interact or talk to the person to decide their competence, etc. I think if that was the case they probably wanted you to pick average, since you obviously couldn't call them above or below average.
3. They asked for comments at the end.
4. If you couldn't determine from the photos, it seems clear enough to click average on all of them.

I'm no expert in surveys, but I'll be interested to see the results. Maybe it'll show that most people picked the middle one on everything because they couldnt' make a determination. Maybe if you couldn't complete it because you were being hyper-analytical, you would have screwed up the results anyway. Maybe it'll show something dramatic. In any case, it seems premature to call the study a waste of time.

I wonder if the designers of the study are familiar with Good site.
11.8.2005 11:38pm