In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at Stanford University have discovered that people who describe themselves as “unattractive” are two times more likely to donate to the Occupy movement.
The scientists behind the study, business professor Margaret Neale and graduate student Peter Belmi, conducted their experiment online. They published the findings recently in a journal called “Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.”
Exactly 492 human guinea pigs participated in the research at issue, which Neale and Belmi describe as a comparison between “attractiveness” and “empathy.”
Specifically, the Stanford researchers randomly divided the participants into two groups.
Participants in the first group could write about a time when they thought “they were physically attractive” or a time when “they thought they were physically unattractive.”
Meanwhile, participants in the second group wrote about empathy. They could either write about a time when they were “very sensitive to the needs and feelings of others” or about a time when they were “not very sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.”
The researchers informed all participants that they “would receive a special lottery ticket which amounted to a $50 gift card from an online retailer” (if it was the winning ticket).
After they penned their essays, the human subjects were asked to rate “their physical attractiveness” and “the extent to which they view themselves as an empathic individual.”
Then, the researchers showed a brief video clip about the Occupy movement. In their jargon-filled academic report, the Stanford researchers describe the Occupy movement as “a social movement advocating for social equality in the United States.”
Next, the Stanford scientists asked all the subjects if they wanted to donate their special $50 lottery ticket to the Occupy Movement.
When the researchers broke down the results, they found that the participants who called themselves ugly were nearly two times as likely to agree to give away their lottery tickets to the Occupy movement, reports Campus Reform.
Research participants who had just written about their own self-confidence or about how gorgeous they find themselves agreed to part with their lottery tickets at a substantially lower rate.
Campus Reform reached out to Belmi, the graduate student involved in the research, for comment. He related the research results to complex issues of class and social status.
“We found that cues that suggested to people that they were more attractive led them to think that they belonged to a relatively higher social class,” he said in an email.
On the other hand, “cues that suggested to people that they were less attractive led them to think that they belonged to a relatively lower social class,” he suggested.
“These perceptions of their social class standing, in turn, influenced their views of inequality,” Belmi added.
He also said that the Occupy movement was chosen as the recipient of the $50 lottery ticket because it was a big issue when the study was conducted.
For whatever reason, by the way, women vastly outnumbered men among the research subjects — by almost two to one.
It’s not clear if the Occupy movement or any research subject actually received a $50 gift card from an online retailer.