Fitted: The Impact of Academics’ Attire on Students’ Evaluations and Intentions

Sebastian Oliver*, Ben Marder, Antonia Erz, Jan Kietzmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Dressing formally or informally as an academic may be a trade-off when it comes to managing impressions towards students, but the extant body of literature remains limited with only mixed results. This research is the first focussed investigation to examine the effects of academic dress formality on the ‘big two’ of impression formation, perceptions of warmth and competence. In a series of three controlled laboratory experiments (total N = 1361), we find dress formality to increase perceptions of competence but to decrease perceptions of warmth, which leads to ‘downstream’ effects on students’ evaluations of instructors and behavioural intentions to enrol in a course. Furthermore, we demonstrate that perceptions of competence may be subject to other information cues (success communication and discipline norms) that can mitigate negative effects associated with dress informality. Implications for higher education practitioners are provided.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)390-410
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Impression management
  • Dress formality
  • Instructor evaluations

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