Research Approaches: Susan Kaiser | Annette Lynch

Annette Lynch

Research Approaches: Susan Kaiser

Cognitive Psychology: Appearance Perception = Focus on Individual Thought Processes

1.  Visual Cues such as dress and appearance are often used to simplify and make sense of social interactions

2.  People strive for consistency and continuity. They sort people into categories (cognitive category) based on appearance and have a set of expectations and assumptions about each category (cognitive structure).


3. People seek out aesthetic stimulation, thus leading to fashion change and creativity.

4. People use attribution theory to explain why something happens.  How people are dressed and how people look are often used to explain a social outcome, as are situational variables. In other words, human beings explain why something happens based on the people involved, or they explain why something happens based on context.

Symbolic Interaction - Sociology = 2 Way Communication Process

1. Human beings create their own realities by managing their appearance. 

Program and Review - simplest way to express dress for success literature

2. People use symbols to communicate through our dress and appearance choices.


3. We act toward other people based on the meaning we associate with their dress and appearance style.

4. Meanings associated with appearance emerge in social interaction with others.

5. Meanings assigned to dress and appearance are manipulated and modified over time, not fixed.

Cultural Approach - Anthropology

1. Collective values are produced and reproduced through appearance.

Mende Ndoli Jowei Helmet Mask, Sierra Leone. notes: "The Mende term ndoli jowei means 'expert in dance' and is the term used for the individual who performs with the principal mask of the women's society known as the sande.  This type of mask is more frequently, and less accurately, known as a 'Sande' or 'Bundu' mask."

2. Cultural beliefs and values are kept alive when they are repeatedly represented on a relatively unconscious level (advertising, television, pop culture).

Boys Keep Swinging, David Bowie Video

3. People have the power to transform their own realities by manipulating material culture that surrounds them, including fashion.

4. Culture provides abstract pictures or representations of social life.

5. People use codes to decipher the meanings of dress and appearance.