Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Bruce C. Wheatley


The appearance of the orator has been a concern of rhetoricians since the classical era. A review of contemporary literature revealed that authors in the area of communication still include theories regarding particulars of effective speaker appearance in their writings. Although authors of speech texts have become prescriptive in their directives of grooming, today’s theoretical preference for short hairstyles in educational speaking contexts has not been quantitatively tested. Therefore, this investigation was designed to experimentally assess the effects of the introduction of longer hairstyles in the classroom situation upon student’s immediate recall.

On hundred twenty-nine students enrolled in eight sections of the basic speech course served as subjects. The experiment was conducted on four distinct campuses in Illinois – employing two sections of the basic course at each college. Thus both an experimental and a control group was established at each college.

The independent variable was a video-taped lecture displaying the experimenter with a long hairstyle, (S1). This was opposed to the control treatment of a video-tape of the same lecture presenting the experimenter disguised via a short hair wig (S2). The dependent variable was subjects’ performance on a seventeen question objective test. All subjects received the same predetermined introduction to the lecture, either S1 or S2, and the seventeen point objective test based upon material included within the lecture.

The tests were then scored and subjects results segregated according to: treatments, schools, and sex. After the tests were found to be both reliable and valid, the results were analyzed statistically.

Analysis of variance: treatments by levels indicated a significant (.001) superiority of university students enrolled in the basic speech course to immediately recall more orally presented information than junior college students enrolled in the basic speech course. The use of student’s “t”-test indicated that the introduction of the longer hairstyle into the classroom situation significantly (.05) retarded the amount of immediate recall female subjects. However, the difference in male retention was not significant.