The effects of rater sex, ratee sex, and applicant attire on personnel selection

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The impact of attire on assessments of job applicants was investigated by creating three dress conditions for two male and two female rates. A formal, intermediate, and casual condition were portrayed for each of the four stimuli. Stimuli were rated on six dimensions relevant to performance as a retail department store manager in a between-subjects design.

Results indicate that the role of attire in estimates of performance depends on the sex of the rater and the sex of the ratee. Dissimilar ratings were obtained from males and females who assessed individuals in a particular dress condition. These results indicated that the hypothesized main effects for dress and rater sex were overly simplistic. The implication of this finding for future research is discussed.

Findings also suggested the importance of including a reasonable range and portrayal of attire in studies of this type. The inclusion of an intermediate apparel condition showed that raters prefer this attire over formal wear under certain rating conditions. The importance of this finding for future attire research designs is discussed.