beauty bias experiement

Beauty Bias Experiment



willing turn (2) take a look
tire flat tire predicament
van motorist hidden-camera
hire stranded experiment
pose play (3) Good Samaritan
up (2) within (2) take care of
role (2) a hand (3) figure it out
receive jump (2) walk right by
offer impossible long distance
in fact surgery by the time
steady grab (2) appearance
squat stream (2) give her a ride
as if continue on the way
wait one-third lend/lent/lend
bias good luck






We wanted to see how big a role appearance plays in normal day-to-day predicaments like if you have a flat tire on the side of the road. Who would come and help you?

Take a look at what happened in our hidden-camera experiment.

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We hired two actresses: Nicole and Joanna to pose as stranded motorists with a flat tire. Using hidden cameras placed inside this clothing store and parked van, we wanted to see just how many people were willing to help.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

First up was Nicole, who doesn’t have to wait very long at all: within two minutes, help is on the way.

Nicole: “Excuse me, my tire’s flat. Is there any way that you could help me?”
Helper One: “Yeah, let me go find somewhere to park.”
Nicole: “Are you working right now?”
Helper One: “Yeah.”
Nicole: “Oh no, I’m so sorry. My dad usually takes care of that.”

That wasn’t the only Good Samaritan willing to help Nicole. Within thirty minutes, four more jump right in to help her.

Helper Two: “I can call my mechanic to come and help you.”
Nicole: “Thank you.”

Including this man, bad knee and all.

Helper Three: “I just got over knee surgery.”
Nicole: “Oh no.”
Helper Three: “So squatting down for me is almost impossible at the moment.”

Unable to squat down, he does all he can anyway, even offering his cell phone.

Nicole: “Is it okay to call long distance?”

Helper Three: “Yeah.”

Nicole never has to wait long; in fact, she received help from eleven men in just ninety minutes.

Nicole: “Do you guys mind if I just run and grab something to eat real fast?”
Helper Four: “By the time you come back we should be finished.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Now it’s Joanna’s turn. Five minutes in, one man does offer to help.

Helper A: “Need some help, lady?”
Joanna: “Yeah.”

But after that, a steady stream of both men and women walk right by Joanna, almost as if she isn’t even there. After twenty-three minutes, help finally arrived for Joanna from this guy.

Helper B: “You need a hand there miss?”
Joanna: “Yeah. If you don’t mind, I have a flat.”

For the next hour however, another stream of men and women continue to walk past Joanna. She’s offered help only by this woman, who says she’ll give her a ride.

Helper C: “I’ll drive you down there. I’m going; I’ll wait for you.”
Joanna: “Oh, that would be very nice of you.”

And this man who lends her his cell phone.

Helper D: “Can I offer you my cell phone?”
Joanna: “That would be great. Thank you so much.”

We even gave Joanna an additional twenty-five minutes to see if anyone else would help.

Joanna: “Is there any way you could drive me there?”
Helper E: “Sure.”

But a total of fifty-five people walked past her, while she waited by the flat. Almost no one walked past Nicole.

In total, three times the amount of men stopped to help Nicole than stopped to help Joanna.

Nicole: “Are you busy at work right now?”
Helper Five: “No, it’s okay.”

Nicole’s average wait time next to that flat tire was one-third of Joanna’s.

Joanna: “I’ll figure it out.”

Beauty bias or just good luck?

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1. A university sociology professor conducted this experiment. True or false? Were the female participants university students?

2. Describe the setup of the experiment.

3. Did people ignore Nicole, the first woman, or did they help her?

4. Only people who were strong, healthy, not busy, not working helped Nicole. Is this correct or incorrect?

5. Did the same amount of people help both Nicole and Joanna?

6. The passersby only helped change the women’s tires. Is this right or wrong?

7. Did the newscasters give an explicit, definite conclusion? What is the implied conclusion? Was there theme or main idea in the report?


A. Were you very surprised, partially surprised, or not surprised by the outcome of this experiment?

B. Was this experiment “bad”, immoral, unethical or politically incorrect?

C. What does this say about human nature? How might looks affect other aspects of Nicole and Joanna’s lives?

D. Society should not judge people by their physical appearance, but by their merits, qualifications, character and personal traits. What do you think?

E. What will happen in the future?


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