Study Finds Women Who Dress “Sexy” at Their Graduation Are Perceived As Less Competent Than Their Peers

New research from the University of Surrey in England has found that women who dress in “sexy” attire at their graduation are perceived as being less competent and are believed to have performed worse in their degree than their peers who dress more professionally.

The research team showed participants pictures of women who had recently graduated from a university in Italy. Half of the pictures showed women in “sexy” outfits consisting of short dress or skirts, low necklines, and high heels, while the others showed women in “professional” outfits consisting of a jacket and trousers. Participants were asked to estimate the final grades of the women in the pictures and to rate their sexiness, competence, and outfit appropriateness.

The results showed that women who dressed more professionally were perceived to have higher grades, be more competent, and be dressed more appropriately then their peers who dressed in what was said to be sexy attire.

In a second experiment, the researchers asked a group of mostly women students, university professors, and members of the general public, to examine photographs of women students who were asked to wear two outfits, one professional and one sexy. The participants were asked to rate the students’ school performance, future career success, and whether they would have worn the outfits they were presented with. Similar to previous results, participants viewed students who dressed more professionally to be more competent and high achieving than the other women.

Participants who were also women students perceived the professionally dressed students as more likely to find a job and to have a successful career than when the same students were dressed in a sexy outfit. Conversely, adult participants judged the students wearing a sexy outfit as having an advantage and having higher chances of success in the job market. Additionally, when asked which outfit they would have chosen, male participants were more likely than women participants to claim that they would have chosen to wear the sexy outfit if they were the student.

Dr Fabio Fasoli, lecturer in social psychology at the University of Surrey, said, “It is often thought that how we dress is a reflection of our personality but this may not be the case for women, given that they are constantly scrutinized for their appearance and that unmerited conclusions are drawn about them, including their intelligence and professional capability.”

The full study, “The (Female) Graduate: Choice and Consequences of Women’s Clothing,” was published in Frontiers in Psychology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply