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The Power of the Hoodie-Wearing C.E.O. 75

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kilt-qualifies-me-to-lead-the-free-world dept.
New submitter silverjacket writes "New research (JSTOR sub required / paywalled) shows that we see nonconformity as a sign of both status and competence — under the right conditions. From the article: 'Next, the researchers asked students at American universities to imagine a professor who is clean-shaven and wears a tie, or one who is bearded and wears T-shirts. Students were slightly more inclined to judge the dapper professor as a better teacher and researcher. But some students were given another piece of information: that the professor works at a top-tier school, where the dress code is presumably more formal. For them, the slouchy scholar earned more points. Deviance can signal status, but only when there are clear norms from which to deviate.'"
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The Power of the Hoodie-Wearing C.E.O.

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:19AM (#45781699)

    I know why researchers at universities use students as test subjects -- like rats, they're all around and they're cheap. And for some studies, using students is perfectly fine.

    But can we stop the practice, at least in news stories, of assuming that the attitudes of American university students apply to anyone other than American university students? Most students are stupid as rocks. They think a "slouchy scholar" is cooler? So what?

  • Bunny-ears lawyer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:20AM (#45781707) Homepage Journal
    I haven't read all the featured articles because the kinds of institutions that have access to JSTOR are closed for weeks around Christmas. But what the article in The New Yorker calls the "red sneakers effect" is the same as what a popular literary analysis wiki calls the bunny-ears lawyer effect [tvtropes.org]. I guess the idea is that if someone can keep her job despite not conforming, she must be really good at it.
  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:33AM (#45781765)

    everyone rocks a neck tattoo now cuz it makes them look like a rich guy who doesn't need a job and just works for "self-actualization".

    And like all symbols of perceived status, it is as useless as the hoodie or tie.

  • by koan (80826) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @11:34AM (#45781989)

    When you make a profit it is accepted.

  • by lxs (131946) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @11:42AM (#45782015)

    Actively examining relative levels of conformity of yourself and others is probably a strong indicator. Going out of your way to be scruffy, wacky or rebellious is playing a part as much as wearing a suit and tie.
    Stop comparing yourself to others. Try to be kind, and if you can't be kind try to be polite.

  • by wolrahnaes (632574) <seanNO@SPAMseanharlow.info> on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @12:23PM (#45782183) Homepage Journal

    Caring about your appearance used to be a marker of "attention to detail" in general (and still is in some circles). A person who wears the "appropriate" clothes is still seen to care enough to do the minimum for the job.

    The question is why a "casual" appearance is seen as "not caring". To me, not caring about your appearance is what I did in college, showing up to class wearing whatever was convenient without having showered or only having done a quick shower without attention to hair and such.

    If someone shows up to work clean and well kept, wearing clean clothes, why does something comfortable like a t-shirt and jeans strike so many as "unprofessional" compared to even khakis and a golf shirt? Why is it basically that the less comfortable the clothing, the more "professional" we consider the style?

    Shouldn't people be encouraged to be comfortable while working, as that presumably will make them more effective at their actual job?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @01:37PM (#45782491)

    Mod parent up. Explicit and overt non-conformity is a paradox.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @02:38PM (#45782795)


    When someone shows up to work over-dressed, I immediately think he's compensating for lack of skill.

    There is the "norm". Ie. people who are dressed appropriately to the norm.

    This article is referring to people who are UNDER dressed relative to the norm and suggests that that in some circumstances this can confer additional 'status' onto them. Their primary examples appear to be harvard profs and facebook CEOs.

    You are talking about people who are OVER dressed relative to the norm, which is sort of beside the point.

    I think the obvious message is, if people see someoe in authority of flouts social norms, it must be, because they are so talented, social norms don't apply.

    This is spot on. But the article is only looking at one side of the coin. I consider dressing to the norms in most environments to be a sign of respect to the other people -- so showing up under-dressed and being able to "get away with it" may be some sort of demonstration of status... but at the same time it's likely to lower my estimation of you. I dress very casually for work, but will dress up for certain meetings not because I need to but out of respect for the people I'm meeting with and the event.

    So Zuckerberg showing up at something in a jeans and hoodie just reinforces my negative impression of him as someone who just doesn't respect anyone else around him. An impression that started with him hoovering student profiles into the initial facebook without their consent and that has only been solidified since then. So while I recognize that he can get away with it, it doesn't raise my estimation of him as a person in the least.

    University profs ... I'm not really sure where that's coming from. That was the full range; from shorts and sandals with a beard to clean shaven suits. There was maybe some correlation with subject matter -- the business related electives I took (Economics, Organizational Behaviour and Psychology, etc) were more likely to be taught by suits than programming language and compiler design, but there really wasn't a correlation with tenure. The "norm" at university was that the profs generally wore whatever the hell they liked and were comfortable with. And the same went for the students. I certainly didn't dress up for lectures, and I didn't expect them to dress up for me.

    Everyone was more or less beyond correlating image with competency. Maybe that was just my university experience. Maybe harvard is different.

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