Fitted: The impact of academics’ attire on students’ evaluations and intentions

Sebastian Oliver, Ben Marder, Antonia Erz, Jan Kietzmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dressing formally or informally as an academic may be a trade-off when it comes to managing impressions towards students, but the extant body of literature remains limited with only mixed results. This research is the first focused investigation to examine the effects of academic dress formality on the “Big Two” of impression formation, perceptions of warmth and competence. In a series of three controlled laboratory experiments (total N = 1,361), we find dress formality to increase perceptions of competence but to decrease perceptions of warmth, which leads to “downstream” effects on students’ evaluations of instructors and students’ behavioral intentions to enroll in a course. Furthermore, we demonstrate that perceptions of competence may be subject to other information cues (success communication and discipline norms) that can mitigate negative effects associated with dress informality. Implications for higher education practitioners are provided.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
Early online date19 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2021


  • impression management
  • dress formality
  • instructor evaluations


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