Cognitive Processing About Classroom-Relevant Contexts: Teachers' Attention to and Utilization of Girls' Body Size, Ethnicity, Attractiveness, and Facial Affect


Journal Article

This study examines 2 aspects of cognitive processing in person perception-attention and decision making-in classroom-relevant contexts. Teachers completed 2 implicit, performance-based tasks that characterized attention to and utilization of 4 student characteristics of interest: ethnicity, facial affect, body size, and attractiveness. Stimuli were 24 full-body photos of girls that varied along the dimensions of interest. Teachers completed a similarity-ratings task and 4 preference-ratings tasks. Results showed that teachers attended to ethnicity and body size but did not utilize this information when selecting students across contexts. In contrast, teachers relied heavily on affect and attractiveness when making decisions. These results suggest that further investigating cognitive processing in person perception is important in understanding how teachers attend to and use multiple salient student attributes in real-world contexts. This study also illustrates the potential utility of adopting a method that places a premium on internal validity to investigate questions relevant to educational researchers. Future work should investigate how other student information, such as student background or personality, affects teachers' cognitive processing in different classroom-relevant contexts. © 2008 American Psychological Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wang, SS; Treat, TA; Brownell, KD

Published Date

  • May 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 100 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 473 - 489

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0022-0663

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0022-0663.100.2.473

Citation Source

  • Scopus