How Your Dressing Influences People’s Perception of You

We know about some of the science behind how the way we dress may affect how people view us. Sometimes what we wear can inform passerby of our type of employment, as well as our ambitions, emotions and spending habits. This is called ” Social psychology of dressing”. In order to clarify what we mean by this term, firstly, we need to define separately ” what is social psychology” and ” what is dressing”. The term dress has been defined by dress scholars Mary Ellen Roach and Joanne Eicher in 1992. By dressing, they mean total arrangement of outwardly detectable body modifications and all material objects added to it in the form of body supplements. They divided body supplements into several groups, such as permanent ( teeth straitening) and temporary ( jewelry, deodorants, makeup and so on). Body modifications and body supplements can affect one, several, or all human senses. (Calefato,2004). Thus, dress can change how the body looks, tastes, smells, feels and sounds. (Aronson,2010). Accordingly, it can influence people’s attitudes and perceptions as well. The way you dress can tell many things about you: your nationality, gender, age, social-economic status, interests and values. Your style sometimes may give a message or information to your surrounding.

Credit: jezienclassics on Instagram

A brief study by Bickman also investigates that clothing is the first thing in people that we all pay attention to. It is the most important factor that influences people’s perception specially in making first impression. Most of the time, inappropriate dress is a reason for rejecting in job. The way we look determines our values, profession etc.

In 1990 researcher Mary Lynn Damhorst, in studying dress, conducted an analysis of 109 impression formation studies to determine the kind of information that was communicated by dress. She found that in the more than 81% of studies the content of information messaged by dress was competence, power or intelligence and in 67% the messages were about personality, sociability and mood.  Similar example of this type of research is a brief study conducted by Dorothy Behling, who was a dress scholar and Elizabeth Williams, a high school teacher (1991). They investigated perceptions of intelligence and scholastic ability among high school students and teachers. The participants were presented by varied photographs of male and female students that were unknown to participants. The dressing styles of the students were different so that half of the students were wearing jeans and t-shirts and the other half of students were in a suit and tie. For both students and teachers, the dressing style worn affected the perceptions and impressions formed. So the result came out with a lower rate in intelligence and scholastic ability of students who wear cutoff jeans and t-shirts than the ones who are in suit.




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