School Uniform Design Preferences of Uniform Wearers and Terminal Values Attributed to Them

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Virginia Tech

The beginning of the twenty-first century found American society sharply divided and American culture in the midst of tumult; the driving forces behind these changes being individualism, multiculturalism and the politics of gender and sexual orientation. As a result, social structure and what were once traditional values have been abandoned for political correctness. With reports of personal crimes committed on juveniles on school property on the rise, clearly, these shifts away from tradition have trickled down from society at large to the sphere of the public school. Students no longer are using traditional socially accepted norms and values as viable guides to their behavior (Hudak, Ander & Allen, 1980), but violence, which has become a way of attaining respect and self worth as well as material possessions. Some of the most disturbing reports that have been brought to the public's attention are those of students assaulting and robbing one another at knife and gunpoint for clothing.

The conceptual framework was that of appearance perception. Clothing and appearance are extremely important to children in their efforts to compete as well as to successfully fit in with their peers. Many school reform efforts have implemented school uniform policies as a way of building a sense of unity and belonging among students, as well as a way of controlling behavior. However, despite the numerous studies that have attempted to show that nonverbal communication may form impressions of personality, character traits, and intelligence, none have focused on school uniforms and their reflection of the personal values of the wearers.

This study determined the uniform preferences of uniform-wearing students for middle school children, and described the five terminal values that these students attributed to uniformed students. This research also determined whether there were significant differences between the probabilities of males and females having the same perceptions of the terminal values attributed to uniformed students, because research has shown that these perceptions have a direct effect on style preferences.

The sample was comprised of 85 students between 18 and 21 years, who attended a military institute of higher education in which they were required to wear uniforms on a daily basis. Respondents completed a three-part questionnaire, which consisted of: (1) Rokeach Value Survey, (2) demographics questions, and (3) wearer preference measure. The instrument was pilot tested for content validity before it was administered to the sample. Data were analyzed using Pearson Chi-squares and frequencies.

The chi-square tests revealed no significant differences in the probability of males and the probability of females selecting the same terminal values for uniformed students. Examination of frequencies determined design criteria for males and females uniform design as well as the five core terminal values attributed to uniformed students.

Terminal Values, Appearance Perception, Gender, School Uniforms, Wearer Preference