JANE EVELYN WORKMAN, Purdue University


In an effort to ascertain whether clothing cues are used in the manner predicted by correspondent inference theory, subjects were exposed to one of two videotaped interviews. In a complete factorial design, the interview was described as one for a campus position as either (1) an orientation adviser or (2) a groundskeeper. The interviewee was dressed in either (1) a pair of overalls with a plaid shirt or (2) a skirted suit. It was predicted that attributions of personal dispositions would be more extreme and given with more confidence when the interviewee was inappropriately dressed for the interview than when she was appropriately dressed. Contrary to prediction, there was no interaction between job and clothing on extremity of trait ratings. There were two "inappropriate" cells: groundskeeper-suit and orientation adviser--overalls. Neither received significantly more extreme ratings than the "appropriate" cells. There was an interaction between job and clothing on confidence ratings but it was not in the direction predicted. The "inappropriate" cell, where the interviewee was dressed in overalls for the orientation adviser job interview, yielded significantly less confident ratings, rather than more, as predicted. Post hoc analyses of the manipulation check items suggested that subjects appeared to seek and find a reason for the inappropriate attire in both the "inappropriate" cells. In the case of the groundskeeper interviewee dressed in a suit, subjects judged her as having had less choice and by implication as reacting to situational constratints...perhaps to impress the interviewer and thus increase the chances of being hired (motivation was perceived as high). In the case of the orientation adviser interviewee dressed in overalls, subjects judged her as less interested in being hired for the job (implying a lack of exertion). But, apparently, ambiguity surrounding this lack of interest resulted in subjects being less confident in their evaluations of the interviewee. Heider suggested that under conditions of situational constraint (lack of choice) and low effort (lack of trying), little information about personal dispositions can be gained. Subjects in the present study apparently acted in accord with Heider's position, as they gave modal responses and avoided extreme ratings.



Subject Area

Social psychology

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