Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Patrick J. Aragon

Second Advisor

Vida Tyc

Third Advisor

Catherine Nicholson

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Steelman


This study was conducted to expand upon previous findings from research that suggested a provocative self-presentation harms women in high-, but not low-, status jobs. In previous research, the target was presented in explicitly sexy and inappropriate clothing for a work environment, compared to more conservative clothing. In the current study, only minor changes in clothing were utilized to classify the outfit as provocative or conservative. This produced a more covert provocative target as the differences were minimal. Participants were randomly assigned to four different groups and were presented with an image of a women in either provocative or conservative professional attire. Each image was assigned as either: high status (i.e., “Doctor”) or low status position (i.e., “Medical Assistant”). Findings from this research study indicated that when a low status professional (Medical Assistant) dresses more provocatively they are trusted by patients significantly more than when dressed conservatively. Whereas perceptions of the high-status professional (Doctor) were not influenced by conservative or provocative clothing. Conducting this study with consideration of a healthcare context is valuable as physician-patient trust has been linked with medication compliance which directly influences health outcomes (Kerse, 2004; Schneider, Kaplan, Greenfield, & Wilson, 2004)


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