Women’s Nonverbal Behavioral Influence on Men’s Door Etiquette on a College Campus

Abstract

Research has found that both sartorial and physical aspects of women influence men’s behavior towards and ratings of women. However, both verbal and nonverbal behavior of women has been seldom manipulated and observed with respect to men’s behavior. This study focused on the extent to which the degree of a woman’s smile may help or hinder her chance of receiving help with the door from a man on her college campus.

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It was hypothesized that the prosocial behavior of men (e.g.: running to open a woman’s door, a form of door etiquette) would increase with the degree of the female research staff’s smile. Using an experimental design, we recorded whether door etiquette was displayed by men for women of three degrees of smiling (n=60). Results did not support H1 as statistical analysis revealed no significance between the degree of a women’s smile and the door etiquette she received. These findings introduce a notion of unconditionality in with respect to door etiquette, a phenomenon atypically supported by principles established by previous research that is expounded upon.

Researchers have identified that various elements of women that affect the cognition and behavior of their male counterparts. There are many markers that have been used to identify the male shift in perception resulting from modifications made to women’s physical appearance. For instance, it was found that when women applied temporary tattoos to their lower back, men approached them more favorably and viewed them as more prone to having sex upon their first date (Gueguen, 2013). Research has also shown how men’s perception of sexual promiscuity is in line with the presence of apparent tattoos (Swami & Furnham, 2007). Similarly, professional cosmetic makeovers have been indicated to increase a wide range of men’s ratings, including tidiness, confidence and physical attraction (Graham & Jouhar, 1981). The sole presence of a woman’s typical makeup routine increases her physical attractiveness as rated by men (Cash et al., 1989).

A similar pattern of prior research is that not only men’s interpretations of women is affected by physical alterations to women, but their behavior also corresponds. Statistical research has shown a significant relationship between social engagement of men and the mere increase in length of a woman’s heel platform (p=.012). In one study, willingness to participate in survey questioners on various topics (i.e.: gender equality, local food habit consumption) was examined with respect to women’s heel size (Gueguen, 2011). Additionally, a female hitchhiker’s success positively corresponds to breast size. Blonde hair is another element research in Western cultures particularly have tied to an increased approachability of men (Gueguen, 2012).

Given by the specificity of prior research, there are many physical cues of women that can affect men’s mind and behavior. This inevitably gives way to confounding variables for each of the prior studies mentioned, granted the extant statistical significance among manipulated and observed variables in these studies. Our study shifted the empirical spotlight to the behavior of women as opposed their physical or morphological appearance, with respect to men’s behavior. We particularly studied a nonverbal cue, smiling, on the prosocial behavior of men. The word ‘prosocial’ was developed and has been utilized by social scientists as an antonym for egoism, typifying prosocial behavior as selfless and intended for the benefit of others (Batson, 2012). Men’s door etiquette was used as our predictor and dependent variable, observed with respect to a women’s smile, our independent criterion. The nature of our study gives way to confounding variables in the same manner as prior studies, if not extending our horizons. Our experimental design applied previous findings while concurrently monitoring extraneous variables.

The alternative hypothesis was in line with former findings and literature: The higher degree of smiling a women confederate presents, the more likely a man will allocate door etiquette. This variance in allocation among the groups, differentiated by the smiling degree, would indicate further approachability of the female confederate under our hypothesis. Our null hypothesis was the contrary, no measurable difference among the groups.

Method

Research Design

To test our hypothesis, an experimental design was implemented. Three students were randomly selected from the University of Florida to participate on a study involving the affect of women’s nonverbal behavior on that of men on campus. Our participants served as confederates in randomized conditions of a varying smiling degree.

Behavioral Measures

Women’s non-verbal behavior was coded ordinally according to their respective smiling conditions in increasing order on a scale of 1 to 3: serious, subtle, full. Men’s prosocial behavior was coded according to door etiquette displayed directly to female confederates. This measurement was coded nominally (i.e.: 0,1), encompassing acts from holding the door open for a female confederate to opening the door for the confederate themselves. Either one of these acts were coded and used as a marker for prosocial, nonverbal male behavior.

Procedures

Female participants were instructed to appear to be withholding from entering a building due to a phone conversation, stationed near an entrance. Additionally, a blatant indication for assistance with the door was made apparent as confederates held bags of project supplies with both hands occupied and their phone clenched against their ear and shoulder. Once a male between the ages of 18 and 55 came within 3 yards of a confederate, she initiated a pre-set timer for 4 seconds. During these four seconds, participants concluded their made-up conversation and proceeded to the nearest entrance. Males’ behavior was only observed under these 4 seconds, wherein door-etiquette cues were recorded, granted the men used the same door as confederates. 20 men within the age group were observed for everything participant and their respective condition.

External validity was addressed by randomizing the locations for each participant. Furthermore, the age bracket of men targeted was made as clear-cut as possible. Incorporating prior research in the scope of our study’s focus while maintaining the population at large, attire was kept constant, but with few limitations. Confederates wore their outfit of choice, limited to flat shoes.

Statistical Analysis

Solely categorical data was recorded, designating a chi-squared test. Our statistical method was used to determine the association between the various smiling conditions of women and recorded door-etiquette of men. We declared an alpha value of 0.05.

Results

The alternative hypothesis was not supported by our statistical testing, resulting in an acceptance of our null hypothesis. Despite finding a gradual increase in recorded door etiquette among men with increasing degrees of smiling, the nonverbal cue of a woman’s smile was ultimately found to be statistically unassociated with these fluctuations.

No statistical significance was found between our two experimental variables. Our chi-squared statistic (?2 = .476) failed to indicate an association of variance among the distribution of etiquette and confederate groupings. Within two standard deviations (df = 2), the p value we computed surpassed the established alpha value at .788 (? = 0.05).

Discussion

The findings of our study shed light on a new notion for the behavioral analysis of men. First, within the scope of the nonverbal behavior of women, men’s prosocial behavior was shown to be uninfluenced. Further analyzing the reciprocal behavior among men and women may indicate that physical elements of women are further statistically tied to men’s behavior and rating as supported by prior research using physical modifications to women. The absence of causality in our study is atypical and holds several implications. These associations could directly affect a woman’s quality of life in different contexts of behavior and judgement, such as job-interview success and decision (Cox et al., 1986).

Door etiquette has posed as a prosocial form of behavior that men carry out regardless of nonverbal cues like smiling. The associations between other types of nonverbal and verbal cues of women on men’s behavior remain unknown without subsequent exploration. As always, external validity must be upheld and coordinated with possible confounding variables to ensure any study could be generalized and communicated effectively to the real world. Larger sample sizes, varied settings and periods, and innovative experimental designs will expand our understanding of casualty between men and women’s mind and behavior.

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