Jurors' evaluations of the effect of clothing on the credibility of female attorneys

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to determine which garments worn by a female stimulus attorney would most often convey impressions of the attorney's credibility to jurors in Montgomery County, Virginia. The study involved a comparative analysis of various colors/color combinations, silhouettes, and interior design lines of courtroom apparel to determine which garments and components thereof most often convey impressions of the attorney's credibility to the jury.

Eleven garments were evaluated to determine which garment most often conveyed positive impressions of the stimulus attorney's credibility. The garment components were evaluated in order to determine which was the strongest predictor of jurors' evaluations of a female attorney's credibility based on clothing. Jurors' gender, age, and income level were also evaluated to determine characteristics that made a difference in judgments of credibility.

Jurors viewed pictures of the same stimulus attorney in 11 different garment combinations and subsequently evaluated them on a semantic differential to measure credibility based on the measure employed by Bassett (1979). Each garment was classified in terms of the three garment components: color/color combinations, silhouette, and interior design lines. Each component was classified as traditional, moderately traditional, or non-traditional. Statistical analyses revealed that jurors considered a garment traditional in color and silhouette, and moderately traditional in interior design lines the most credible. In addition, the color of the garment was found to be the most influential garment component on credibility evaluations. Age was the only demographic of differentiation in jurors' evaluations of attorney's credibility via clothing.