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Hot for Teacher: Students Rate Professors on Their Looks

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The ability to read product ratings from other consumers is one of my favorite aspects of shopping online. In fact, I even find myself looking things up on my Amazon iPhone app so I can read reviews before I make a final decision on whether or not to purchase something when I’m at Target or Barnes and Noble.

Students Rating Professors by Looks

Websites like RateMyProfessors are out there so college students can read other students’ thoughts and opinions on professors when creating course schedules for the upcoming term. The site has had its fair share of controversy and most professors choose to ignore it without looking themselves up to see what students have to say, but RateMyProfessors also gives people the opportunity to rate the looks of their instructors.

In addition to rating professors on categories such as easiness, helpfulness, clarity and rater interest, students have the ability to identify professors as “hot” by awarding chili peppers. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured a rather entertaining article on the topic entitled Professors: Hot at their Own Risk.

The Attention is Embarrassing

Robert Brinkerhoff of the Rhode Island School of Design is so good-looking that his students nicknamed him Baberhoff. He was recently featured on Lemondrop.com’s list of 50 Hottest Male Professors, a fact that embarrasses him even more. He told the Chronicle that he pretended he had never seen the list when a colleague brought it to his attention. Deep down, part of him was flattered but he says that “Something like this does begin to compromise your credibility.”

Research shows that attractive people tend to do better in life, and a 2006 paper written by Todd C. Riniolo, Katherine C. Johnson, Tracy R. Sherman and Julie A. Misso found that attractive professors—both men and women—received significantly higher teaching evaluations than their “non-hot” peers. The results were consistent across the four major American universities used in the survey.

Being Too Good-Looking Can Cause Problems

Judith Waters, a professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University who does research on beauty and success, claims that “You have to be acceptable-looking, but if you look as if you spend more time in the beauty parlor than in the library, that’s going to be a problem.”

It seems that male professors are less accustomed to attracting attention because of their looks, and less comfortable with it. Gary A. Hoover, a professor of economics at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, made No. 8 on the Lemondrop list and now lives 45 miles from campus to avoid running into students while out in public. He has found suggestive notes under his door and been asked by female professors whether or not it is okay to date students once the semester is over. He is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to end up in a bar and see some nice-looking lady and then come to find out, ’I’m in your Tuesday/Thursday class.’”

The Montreal Gazette reports that most male professors are embarrassed by such attention while females feel as if their colleagues take them less seriously once news of the “hotness ranking” is revealed.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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