Clothing behavior of working women related to self-image/clothing- image congruity and achievement motivation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Profound changes have taken place in the role of the American female; she is no longer only a wife and mother because 51.2 percent of the total population 16 years and over are employed outside the home. The importance of this segment of women has been evidenced in the popular literature and by retailers who have created specialty clothing areas catering to the employed woman.

Clothing and the self-concept have been related in research studies for several years. Clothing also has been related to occupational aspirations. The purpose of the research was to develop a model using the theoretical concepts actual self-image, ideal self-image, clothing-image and achievement motivation to predict women's clothing behavior for work.

Using the integrated self-concept theory, two hypotheses were formulated: 1) costumes which induce positive congruity will be worn more than costumes which induce positive incongruity or negative congruity, followed by negative incongruity; 2) there will be a significant relationship between congruity and achievement motivation for five costumes.

The instrument used to collect data was composed of a Clothing Congruity Measure which was developed using five costume images: feminine, business-like, casual, sexy and collegiate. The self-administered questionnaire, including the Clothing Congruity Measure, the Mehrabian and Banks ACHS, the Tausky and Dubin COAS and a demographic section was mailed to 65 faculty and 65 staff at three land grant universities. The rate of return was 60 percent or 227 usable questionnaires.

A two-way analysis of variance was used to test the first hypothesis. Clothing behavior means for the feminine, business-like, casual and sexy images followed the expected pattern of congruity, however, the collegiate image did not. An aggregate analysis of all costumes supported the hypothesis that an hierarchical order of congruity conditions existed.

The second hypothesis was not supported. Congruity and career anchorage position and congruity and achievement motivation reached a statistical level of significance, using Pearson correlations, for the business-like outfit, but not for the other costume images.