Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Paek, Soae Lee

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Human and Family Resources


Clothing and dress--Social aspects; Wit and social status; Women in the professions; Social distance


The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of the appearance of a professional female model and the verbal content of her discourse on the perception of social distance by the observer. The independent variables manipulated on videotape were attire (casual or professional) and verbal discourse (humor or no-humor). There were four different conditions on videotape. The subjects in four sample groups were randomly assigned to view only one of the four conditions. The Social Distance Instrument consisted of eight subscales: competence, social attractiveness, personality traits, emotional traits, adaptable traits, sexrole traits, credibility traits, and humor traits. The effect of prior sex-role attitude of perceiver on the social distance ratings was measured by the Attitudes Toward Women Scale and used as a covariate. The data indicated that appearance did affect the perception by the males differently than the females. The males rated the casual attire higher than the professional attire in their ratings of the dependent measures while females had no such preference. There was a main effect on dress in the Adaptable scale where the casual dress was rated higher than the professional. The groups viewing the humor condition rated the Humor subscale items higher than those groups viewing the no-humor condition. This was consistent for both male and female respondents regardless of the attire (casual or professional). Overall, the findings revealed that male subjects preferred the casual attire to the professional attire. This could be interpreted that males feel less intimidated by a casually-attired professional female. The findings regarding the sex-role attitude revealed that prior attitude toward traditional female roles did not significantly affect the social distance ratings of the professional female. These findings regarding traditional sex-role attitudes could be interpreted that the use of humor (a traditionally masculine characteristic) by a professional female is not a risky verbal strategy.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 74-89)


x, 126 pages




Northern Illinois University

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