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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 fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:41AM (#45781795) Journal
    It's a recognized problem (though, for the reasons you note, people prefer to ignore it whenever possible because college students will do any dumb survey you throw at them for peanuts), enough so that it has its own spiteful acronym.

    They call such research subjects 'WEIRD': Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. (Now, given the student debt numbers and all that neat stuff they didn't tell you about in civics class concerning how governments work, some scare quotes may be in order; but the general "asserting universal truths about human psychology based on American college students is only a few steps ahead of just introspecting and assuming that everyone thinks as you do" point is important...)
  • by Zakabog (603757) <john.jmaug@com> on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @11:00AM (#45781857)

    Exactly what part of teaching requires you to follow a dress code?

    From the summary it sounds like the students feel the laid back teacher must be excellent at his job for the top tier school to keep him despite not following their dress code.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @11:24AM (#45781951)

    Exactly what part of teaching requires you to follow a dress code?

    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.

    If a person is teaching at a top university, they presumably are already perceived to be competent, so not caring about clothes might be perceived as someone who is too busy doing high-profile research to care.

    I've noticed a similar effect in email etiquette: sometimes you can command more respect from students at a high-profile university sometimes if you deliberately write abrupt emails with apparent typos. I had a colleague who did this deliberately. Taking care to write a careful, measured response with no typos means you have time to waste on email. If you have typos and a one line response, you might be too busy doing "things that matter."

    But if you do this at a community college, you're likely to just be a poor teacher who doesn't give a crap.

  • by davydagger (2566757) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @01:27PM (#45782451)
    to be honest for me its the reverse. I see people with "proffesional" image as liars and tricksters, using image to trick people, and getting away with things normal people don't.

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

    When I see you act "corporate polite", or act corporate proffesional, I immediately assume your trying to swindle me out of *something*.

    I obviously also work in IT, and this attitude is pretty common.

    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.

    Its a reflection from pop culture, where celebrities flaunt their deviance as signs of social prowess, a form of conspicious consumption, showing the world they are so high on the social latter, rules don't apply to them.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.