The aim of the study
The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of “chav” and “formal” clothing trends on implicit personality theories as measured by participant’s rating of trustworthiness, and this was supported as a significant difference was found. The researcher’s findings support the experimental, directional hypothesis that “Clothing Trends will affect implicit personality theories and cause participants to score a “chav” lower on a trustworthiness test than a “formally dressed person”” and therefore did not support the null hypothesis of “there will be no significant effect of clothing trends on implicit personality theories and any significant effects are down to chance” and therefore it was rejected. This was supported in the findings of the study in so far as the “chav” condition did indeed score higher in frequency and average on an untrustworthiness test than the formal condition. Although this overall finding was expected due to the findings of the background theories, certain anomalous results were still found in the findings, such as certain participants rating the “chav” condition highly trustworthy and vice versa in the other condition.
The research was found to be valid using the Mann-Whitney-U test at the level of significance of p?0.01 for a one tailed test, this was checked and exceeded which gives the researchers a high level of confidence in their results as this level of validity on the mann-whitney-U test is highly stringent and therefore it is less likely the results are due to chance, as the probability is less than or equal to 1%. However, just because the results are said to not be down to chance does not mean that they are 100% valid due to the possibility of confounding variables, such a weather, unfairly affecting the results.This study was drew key ideas from three main pieces of previous research to function effectively and to investigate their truths, namely, Asch (1946), Allport and Postman (1947) and Bruner and Taguiri (1954). Overall, the findings supported the previous research but only in some ways due to limitations in comparison between them.
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Asch’s offers a possible explanation as to why the findings of this study contain what they do. Asch put forward the idea of “the halo effect” or an automatic association between characteristics of a person which build up a larger picture of their personality; this could explain why participants, on average, found the “chav” condition to be less trustworthy as they associate the appearance with other characteristics, i.e. criminality and so, untrustworthiness.This shows Asch’s findings are supported by the study study in so far as the implicit personality theory, this is the theory that traits are sub-consciously linked together to form an overall picture of someone’s personality. In this case, clothing style and trustworthiness.
The final study which influenced this particular one is Allport and Postman (1947). In my mind, Allport’s study has key similarities with this recent one which allow both of them to support each others findings. The similarity n the findings are that a social minority is negatively stereotyped against; however, in Allport’s study it is black males who are seen as committing a serious crime, whereas it is a “chav” being seen as untrustworthy by participants in this 2007 study.The similarities between black males of the 1940s and the “chav” of the 00’s are evident in so far as them being demonised in the media; they statistically do have a recent history of anti-social behaviour in a minority of cases; and are traditionally perceived to be in the lower echelons of social class. However, the modern “chav” is in no way as oppressed as the black male back in the 40’s and that, along with the fact the stereotyping in Allport’s study involved a serious crime not just being trustworthy, and so made the stereotyping in the 1947 study a lot stronger and more serious than that of the 2007 study. Allport’s test also involved recall which makes the findings difficult to compare with the 2007 study.
Although both results greatly support one another, there are limitationsThe 2007 study has, like all studies, a few limitations in validity. Due to the sample being chosen purely on opportunity, it led to a slight bias in gender with 17 men and 13 women taking part. This could have led to bias as a female model was used for the photographs in the conditions and factors such as sex appeal, jealousy and self-comparison may have unfairly affected the findings, this could have been avoided by using a stratified sample of a single gender.For the same reason it is possibly unfair that both female and male researchers were used in collecting results as this may cause a gender bias, this could be avoided by simply using just one gender of people in collecting results. Confounding variables such as it being a sunny Sunday afternoon may have affected the results as participants could have rushed the survey – this is a possible problem in the method, this could be avoided by conducting a completely lab based study in which participants could plan their time and therefore not rush.
Surveys also cause problems in the findings as people may not give a true account so as to look good (social desirability bias) or because they display demand characteristics because of guessing the aim of the study. To counter-act this, the researcher could conduct an observational experiment where the participant is observed unknowingly to their reaction to the conditions, although slightly less ethical it would reduce demand characteristics etc.Other problems in the sample may have been that someone who was dressed as “formal” or a “chav” could have incredibly biased the results and this may account for the anomalous results in the findings, this again could be avoided by stratifying the sample to avoid unwanted participant types. Another problem is that the conditions involved photographs rather than real people; this may have led to over harshness in the survey and is not generalisable with everyday life and therefore external validity, this could simply be avoided by using a live model rather then photographs. Overall I believe the results were significant and this was supported by the high level found in the Mann-Whitney-U test, although the result did lack qualitative data.
I believe it could be improved by doing another similar test involving a qualitative survey to gain depth of data, and create a detailed description of the stereotyping involved; i would do this by asking open ended questions to gain qualitative data.I do not believe that this study is 100% generalisable due to photographs and a semi-controlled situation being used however it does highlight some key problems in our society today. Its findings show the negative stereotyping of a young group of media demonised people. If this does not appear terrible enough, it is also comparable to the findings of a study (Allport et al.) which shows some of the worst stereotyping ever documented in previous research, that of black Americans which has been apologised for, for years since.
The study’s results show that participants believe a person to be less trustworthy just from the way they dress, even though it is hard to generalise due to the small sample, it is a highly negative implication and perhaps should be counteracted with education through the media to reduce the prejudices.. Surely by the participants automatically judging the model in the condition to have an anti-social characteristic, are themselves being anti-social.A suggestion for further research I would make is to conduct a similar study to collect deep, qualitative data as to why this stereotyping is happening. Or find whether the main obvious implication in the study, the model being female made any difference to the validity of results.
If I was to conduct the 1st idea, I would aim to investigate the typical characteristics of the modern day “chav”. I would hypothesise “participants will stereotype a chav as a poor, crime committing, alcohol drinking person over someone with kind characteristics” I would conduct this by creating two profiles containing life experiences and typical behaviours and asking a participant to categorize them both with 1 word, then add 2 un cued characteristics to the profile so as the researcher could try and find links in the qualitative data which would be highly accurate as they are participant’s un cued, hopefully un bias views. Although I may get vast amounts of unrelated data, the qualitative data gained would give a far more interesting insight into the true stereotype of “chav”In this investigation the experimental hypothesis was “the chav dressed condition will receive a higher rating of untrustworthiness, than that of the formal dressed condition” and the null hypothesis was “there will be no significant effect of clothing trends on implicit personality theories and any significant effects are down to chance”. Methodological criticisms mean validity and reliability is questionable. Thus, conclusions must be made cautiously as there is a need for further and improved research. However, it can be concluded that the experimental hypothesis was accepted and the “chav” condition was indeed negatively stereotyped against.