Clothing Interest, Clothing Satisfaction, and Self-Perceptions of Sociability, Emotional Stability, and Dominance

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine clothing interest as a mediating factor in selfperceptions of sociability, emotional stability, and dominance when either satisfaction or dissatisfaction with clothing was specified. A questionnaire was designed to measure five dimensions of clothing interest as well as each of the three traits both with, and without, a "clothing satisfaction variable," or reference to whether the subject felt satisfied or dissatisfied with her dress. A MANOVA analysis revealed that specific dimensions of clothing interest suggesting a risk-avoiding orientation toward dress were most likely to mediate self-perceptions of sociability, emotional stability, and dominance when one was either satisfied or dissatisfied with one's clothing.

Researchers of dress and human behavior have attempted to measure interest in clothing so that its relationship with other pertinent behaviors and traits may be studied. Interest in clothing may be defined simply as "the extent to which an individual is favorably predisposed toward clothes" (Kaiser, 1990, p. 295). Indications of such a predisposition may include the amount of time, money, and attention paid to matters of dress (Gurel & Gurel, 1979; Kaiser, 1990). In studying individuals' use of clothing in forming impressions of others, researchers have studied clothing interest as a mediating factor in impression formation. Rowold (1984) found that subjects who were more sensitive to clothing cues were less likely to project their own self-esteem onto clothed stimulus figures than were subjects who were less interested in clothing. Low clothing interest subjects, on the other hand, were less likely to use clothing cues as a guide to forming perceptions, and tended to project their own feelings about themselves onto the stimulus figures. In addition, Lapitsky and Smith (1981) found that female subjects who were interested in clothing and thought clothing was important tended to form favorable perceptions of others who were dressed attractively.

Researchers have studied also the relationships between values and specific aspects of clothing interest. For example, Creekmore (1963) found relationships between social, political, and religious values and interest in conformity, fashionability and status, and modesty in dress, respectively. Gurel and Gurel (1979) further explored the multi-faceted nature of clothing interest through factor analysis of Creekmore's "Importance of Clothing" questionnaire (1971). Their analysis revealed five dimensions or factors of clothing interest. The first and largest factor identified was interest in clothing as concern for personal appearance, which they defined as "concern about one's clothes as they contribute to or detract from one's appearance" (p. 276). Interest in clothing as experimenting with appearance implied a playful orientation toward dress and an interest in novel forms of clothing without concern for the consequences. Interest in clothing as heightened awareness of clothes was described as an impersonal, academic interest in clothing and the subject of dress. Interest in clothing as an enhancement of security described those who used "clothing to boost morale and to increase feelings of security and self-confidence" (p. 277). Finally, interest in clothing as enhancement of individuality referred to an interest in dress as a means to draw attention to oneself and distinguish oneself from the crowd.

As clothing interest has been studied as a characteristic that the individual brings to his or her perceptions of others, it seems appropriate to study also clothing interest as a mediating factor in self-perceptions. Kwon (1994) and Cosbey (1990) found that self-perceptions of sociability, emotional stability, dominance, and work competency varied according to whether a positive or negative feeling about one's clothing was suggested. The present study examined whether individuals' selfperceptions of sociability, emotional stability, and dominance when they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their dress varied according to their tendencies toward specific types of clothing interest. …