THE TEACHING ECONOMIST - William A. McEachern                 

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Issue 31, Fall 2006

William A. McEachern, Editor

Good and Hot?

Is there a link between overall quality and appearance? Specifically, were the economists rated highest in overall quality at each institution more likely to be judged hot than economists rated lowest in overall quality? Of the 32 economists rated highest in overall quality, 16 were also judged to be hot. Among the 32 lowest rated economists in overall quality, only two were judged to be hot. Thus, 50% of the highest rated economists were rated hot versus only 6% of the lowest rated economists.

Other evidence suggests a link between hotness and overall quality. For the sample institutions, the correlation between the share of economists judged to be hot and the share rated good is 0.594. For all rated faculty at the sample institutions, it's 0.704. Both correlations are significant at the 0.001 level. One final linkage: RateMyProfessor.com lists the "Top 50 Hottest Professors" in the United States and Canada . Only one of these 50 was rated less than good—the 46 th ranked Hottie missed the good range by only 0.1.

In summary, faculty in the sample tended to be rated higher in "overall quality" and 'hotter" than economists. Among different types of institutions, elite colleges had a highest share of economists rated good and a smallest share rated poor. The highest rated economists at each institution were judged on average to be easier than the lowest rated economists. The highest rated economists were also more likely to be judged as hot. Perhaps the most valuable lesson RateMyProfossor.com has to offer comes from student comments. These are next.

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