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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1939. Department of Home Economics.


Copyright 1939, the author. Used by permission.


This piece of investigation was motivated by the question as to whether or not people are actually as sensitive to personal appearance as the comments of theorists would lead us to believe. The objectives then were:

  1. To measure scientifically by means of psychometrical techniques the differences in degree of sensitivity to personal appearance in certain student and professional groups of girls and women. Each person was asked to rate herself on a Personal Appearance Interest Scale based upon socio-psychological attitudes.

  2. To determine the relationship between sensitivity to personal appearance as measured and the actual achievement of good personal appearance as estimated by five competent judges. It was desired to secure scientific data which can be used in college clothing classes to help girls realize the social and professional value in good personal appearance.It is hoped through the present study to bring about a better understanding of the psychological reactions of the average individual to appearance.

The groups selected for this study comprise a good sampling of girls and women of various ages, interests, and activities or occupations.The groups and the number of persons in each are as follows:

Home Economics students enrolled in the University of Nebraska—336

Non-Home Economics students enrolled in the University of Nebraska—124

High school students enrolled in Lincoln High, Lincoln, Nebraska—186

Teachers selected at random in the state—110

Homemakers selected at random in the state—119

The present study indicates that the attitudes toward personal appearance vary in intensity among different groups of women according to age, personal interest and educational training differences.The results show that the college home economics group was the most sensitive to personal appearance and significantly so.However, assuming that the age level of the two groups of university students is comparable, adolescence was found to be the period of greatest sensitivity to personal appearance.The college non-home economics and the teachers’ group ranked essentially the same in their degree of sensitivity—the teachers’ group being only slightly less sensitive, probably due to the greater variation in age for the group as a whole.The homemakers’ group was the least sensitive of any group tested.

Advisors: Grace M. Morton and Leland H. Stott