Giuseppe Pantaleo, Nicola Internullo

L'abito che fa il monaco: effetti dell'abbigliamento sul grado di rispettabilità percepita di persone con e senza un titolo accademico

  • Abstract

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An experiment examines to what extent an academic title and a particular mode of dress are able to lend higher prestige and social respectability to the person who exhibits these symbols. In a 3 x 3 "within-subjects" design, the systematic orthogonal manipulation of three ways of dressing (casual items vs. white coat vs. formal dress) and three levels of academic title (no title vs. doctor vs. professor) shows that respectability judgements vary as a function of both mode of dress and academic title. Judgements "do not" vary as a function of a particular combination of mode of dress and title, or social "Gestalt" (e.g., "professor wearing a white coat" = highly respected physician). If this had been the case, specific combinations of mode of dress and title should have generated "higher" or "lower" respectability ratings, compared with the ratings generated by the simple algebraic summation of the two factors, thus resulting in a statistical interaction between title and mode of dress. The analyses show that prestige is furthered both by a formal way of dressing and by the use of an academic title. There was no interaction between these two factors. The effect of a particular way of dressing turns out to be much stronger than that produced by the title; each of the factors is sufficient to produce the effect. Data are discussed with respect to an "algebraic" vs. "configurational" interpretative framework.

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