The chili pepper on ratemyprofessor.com might actually play a role in the classroom.
According to the new study “Effects of Instructor Attractiveness on Learning” from the University of Nevada, students’ grades might improve if students are taught by attractive professors.
In the study, 131 college students listened to the same 20-minute online lecture while looking at either a photo of an “attractive” professor or a photo of an “unattractive” professor. Students weren’t allowed to take notes. Afterword, they took a 25 question quiz. The scores of the group with the “attractive” professor averaged a 73 percent grade, and the “unattractive” group averaged a 67 percent grade.
Dannelle Larsen-Rife, an associate professor of psychology, said there is a large amount of research showing attractive people reap specific benefits.
“Attractive people are seen as more interesting and more honest,” she said. “They get the benefit of the doubt. Even babies will look longer at attractive people.”
Objectively attractive professors on ratemyprofessor.com can achieve a chili pepper ranking by having at least one positive vote for their looks.
Ciera Lewis, a freshman biology major from Salem, said she noticed the chili pepper when using ratemyprofessor.com, but she didn’t know what it was for. She said she uses ratemyprofessor.com to find the more friendly professors.
“When teachers are nice, I feel a lot more comfortable in the class to ask questions than when they are intimidating,” Lewis said.
On the other hand, Sophia Lincoln, a freshman biology major from St. George, said students would be more likely to put more effort into classes being taught by attractive professors.
“A lot of people will try harder if they have a mini crush on their [professor]. They don’t want to be embarrassed [by] getting a bad grade if they have a cute teacher, ” Lincoln said.
Grace Weyland, a freshman psychology major from St. George, said attractive professors might actually be a distraction for her.
“I have an attractive teacher this semester, and then [when] I am 40 minutes into the lecture, I’m like, ‘what did you say?'” Weyland said.
Larsen-Rife said students shouldn’t start to pick their future professors based on whether the chili pepper is red or not.
“You tend to learn better when you are challenged, so take classes that are interesting to you and work hard,” Larsen-Rife said.