Sartorial Symbols of Social Class Elicit Class-Consistent Behavioral and Physiological Responses: A Dyadic Approach
Journal of experimental psychology. General | 16 Sep 2014
MW Kraus and WB Mendes
Social rank in human and nonhuman animals is signaled by a variety of behaviors and phenotypes. In this research, we examined whether a sartorial manipulation of social class would engender class-consistent behavior and physiology during dyadic interactions. Male participants donned clothing that signaled either upper-class (business-suit) or lower-class (sweatpants) rank prior to engaging in a modified negotiation task with another participant unaware of the clothing manipulation. Wearing upper-class, compared to lower-class, clothing induced dominance-measured in terms of negotiation profits and concessions, and testosterone levels-in participants. Upper-class clothing also elicited increased vigilance in perceivers of these symbols: Relative to perceiving lower-class symbols, perceiving upper-class symbols increased vagal withdrawal, reduced perceptions of social power, and catalyzed physiological contagion such that perceivers' sympathetic nervous system activation followed that of the upper-class target. Discussion focuses on the dyadic process of social class signaling within social interactions. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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