Impressions of Personality Based on Body Forms: An Application of Hillestad's Model of Appearance

Kim K P Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The purpose of this research was to investigate whether impressions ofpersonality varied by size and shape of male and female body forms. Three hundred eighty-five male and female undergraduates served as subjects. Each subject received a questionnaire with a line drawing attached. Each drawing was either a male or a female previously rated by judges as representing an ectomorphic (thin), ecto-mesomorphic (thin/muscular), mesomorphic (muscular), endo-mesomorphic (heavy/muscular) or endomorphic (heavy) body form. Each subject rated one body form on 22 characteristics. Ratings were scored on 5-point scales representing a high to low response, e.g., happy-not happy. Data were analyzed using factor analysis, analyses of variance, and Newman-Keul's test. Male subjects did not differ from female subjects in their ratings of the body forms. Subjects' impressions of personality were influenced by body form information. Subjects rated male body forms as generally more “masculine” than female body forms and the mesomorphic body form was rated highest on the factor “activity” as might have been expected. Unexpected was the finding that male body forms appear to have more “appeal” overall than female body forms except in the case of the female ectomorph. Results suggest researchers interested in the effect of appearance on social interaction may wish to take into consideration body form. © 1990, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalClothing and Textiles Research Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990


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