Language of Clothes: Nonverbal Communication Intention and Misinterpretation
Elizabeth A., Dorrance
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Clothing is a primary nonverbal cue from which assumptions are made in first impressions. Clothing is an important part of the identity construction process and its ability to transmit immense meaning and messages allows clothing to serve as a major component in forming judgments of others. The present study employed an experimental quantitative design featuring participant clothing creation via the internet and aimed to discover the discrepancies between clothing message intention and interpretation by others. Results from 211 participants showed that message creators tend to view their clothing message and projected image as more successful, intelligent, friendly, charming, cultured, likeable, extroverted, attractive, active, trustworthy, impulsive, and practical than the message receiver. Also, the "Trendy" style messaging is more accurately interpreted than "Preppy," "Classic," or "Relaxed/Casual" styles. Interpretation of results including Communication Accommodation Theory and media effects are discussed. Recommendations for future nonverbal clothing code messaging studies are made.