Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Environmental Science (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

General Human Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Lona Robertson

Committee Member

George Wardlow

Second Committee Member

Leigh Southward

Abstract

Through the norms of a society, people must meet certain expectations in order to survive and provide for their family. For example, job expectations driven by human judgment on appearance creates a norm that society must follow. The question is how much appearance attributes such as dress and hair color effect others' interpretation of who a person may be? The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between specific appearance and body modifications (dress and hair color) of a young female professional and perceived competency level as determined by a convenience sample of students in selected senior level courses at the University of Arkansas. The appearance and body attributes were applied to a female model, approximately 25 years of age, who was dressed as a professional. Two hundred and seventy-five questionnaires were completed. Results indicated that hair color and dress did have a significant effect on the female model's perceived professionalism. The photo illustrating conservative dress with natural hair color was considered significantly more professional than all other photos. Also, results showed that there was a significant difference between genders in response to the photos illustrating conservative dress with pink highlighted hair and extreme dress with natural hair color. With both photos, the male responses showed significantly higher scores than the females in responding to the female model illustrated. The responses from these questions may give insight into current social norms and stereotypes associated with appearance and body modifications and female professionals.

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