Cougar Questions: Do professors show differential treatment to students based on looks?


Do professors give preference to students who have their “look” together? Or is that a myth? We asked BYU students if they thought BYU professors treat them differently based on their looks.

“Most of my classes have a lot of students, so I don’t feel as though the teachers really have any bias. That’s just my opinion.” — Oliver Moore, Chemistry, Texas

“No, because professors are reasonable and decent enough people not to let that happen. Some teachers might treat them differently, depending on the teacher.” — Jeff Kerr, Exercise science, Arizona

“I haven’t ever thought about that before, truth be told. Obviously it would depend on the professor. If he is 60, 70, 80 years old he is not going to react to anything, but maybe some of the younger professors will, depending on some of their own experiences with whomever they have taught already. I mean, most people already make judgments. Once you look at someone, you make at least a little of a judgment. I would say that professors do, even if it is unconsciously at least a little bit, but if they are a good professor they will be able to check that.” — Mark Leavitt, Undeclared, Utah

“I have been trying to figure that out. Honestly, I am with my brother. I think that subconsciously it will affect the way a professor treats you a little bit, but the more you go along, the more it doesn’t matter. I try to think how I would be if I was a professor. I would probably judge subconsciously, to be completely honest. But the more you get to know various people, the more it really doesn’t matter. Professors, having known all of their students, I don’t think it really makes that big of a difference.” — David Leavitt, Undeclared, Canada

“Personally, no, I don’t think so; not according to their level of attractiveness. But more based on their overall intelligence and the level of comments they make in class, I think they would have a greater bias for or against certain students.” — Blake Holmes, Mechanical engineering, Utah

“No, I think it has more to do with the level of participation the student has in class because if the professor is more familiar with the student they are more willing to work with them on certain aspects of the class.” — Brianna Bartholomew, Athletic training, Idaho

“I would say that the student would be treated more in favor by their attractiveness because when they look better, they are going to be looked upon as more successful. People tend to gravitate to successful people.” — Emma Weaver, Dietetics, Arizona

“I think it depends on the professor. I think some professors are more prone to treat people differently based on their attractiveness.  I think that some professors will treat you better based on the way you look, but some will treat you worse. Some might be more bitter towards the more attractive and successful-looking students although some view them as more approachable. Those students tend to have more confidence also, and so they are easier to talk to and are more involved in classes. Obviously the professor will talk to them more because they are involved more.” — Maryelle Ripa, Nutritional science, Utah

“Personally I don’t think it has an effect. I think that in a big classroom setting anyways they are teaching just mainly to everyone and so they don’t have a bias. For me, I feel as though the teachers don’t even know me personally and so they don’t give me special treatment. I don’t think it matters.” — Kaela Whittingham, Psychology, Utah

“I think that there is a direct correlation between a student’s level of attractiveness and the way professors treat their students. I have one teacher who highly favors the girls in the class. So for opening prayer he will pick the girl over the guy and gives the girls more understanding and helps them understand the concepts better.” — Alyson Caten, Nutrition, Tennessee


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