Graduation Date

Summer 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Amber Gaffney

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Amanda Hahn

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Christopher Aberson

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



This experiment focuses on an area not heavily touched on within social psychology—physical attractiveness and intragroup dynamics. When joining a group, a physically attractive individual may cause existing group members to feel unsure about their own attractiveness, prompting potentially negative perceptions and actions towards the new member. This work addresses physical attractiveness in the context of a small group with a 2 (self-prototypicality: prototypical vs. peripheral) x 2 (target status: newcomer vs. old-timer) x 2 (target attractiveness: attractive vs. non-attractive) experimental design. Participants (N = 147) played online game, “Speedy Ball”, which is designed to simulate a small group context. Dependent measures included feelings of uncertainty, self-attractiveness, and group identification, as well as perceptions of warmth, competence, and distance from the other members of their group. In addition, participants also picked a member for leadership and a member to be removed from the group. Results did not provide conclusive evidence to support the hypothesis that newcomer attractiveness is threatening in an intragroup context. Somewhat contrary to predictions, participants who were peripheral rated the attractive target higher in warmth than the unattractive target. In addition, participants tended to promote attractive individuals to leadership and tended remove unattractive targets from the group. Interestingly, while participants removed fewer attractive targets, they removed more newcomer attractive targets than old-timer attractive targets. This trend did not reflect in the unattractive targets, suggesting that old-timer status may matter for attractive individuals in avoiding removal from the group. The study demonstrates the complexity of studying intragroup contexts and makes a case for including individual characteristics in future research regarding newcomer acceptance.

Citation Style