Little research examined the effects of politicians’ clothing on potential voters’ positions on specific issues. Clothing can affect perceptions of…

Little research examined the effects of politicians’ clothing on potential voters’ positions on specific issues. Clothing can affect perceptions of policemen’s authority (Valenzuela, 2004; Jones, 2005), defendants’ culpability (Gaines, 2006; Green & Frank, 2001; Ramirez & Olson, 2000), panhandling bums’ authenticity (Galiger, 2005; King & Turner, 1998), and doctors’ authority (Underwood, 2005). Only one study (Timmerman, Wold & Cook, 1987) discusses how a politician’s clothing affects his constituents’ belief in his credibility. The Timmerman, Wold, and Cook (1987) study examines only the extent to which subjects believed the politician as to his/her message, not the extent to which their choice of apparel affects how voters feel about a candidate’s position on the issues. Thus, the paucity of research led to the present field study on the relationship between candidate attire and his or her position on issues.
Method
In this experiment, questionnaires were distributed by the researcher to a grand total of about 1,000 basically liberal voters attending six campaign appearances in a Democrat primary in a Midwestern state. Candidate A was in agreement as to his willingness to be a participant in the study, by dressing in different clothing styles (formal / business casual / informal) in otherwise fairly similar settings over the course of 2 weeks. (A detailed description of the attire appears below.)
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