Dress to impress: The effects of nonconformist dress style in personnel selection contexts

Janneke Oostrom, Richard Ronay

Research output: Contribution to JournalMeeting AbstractAcademic


The so called “red sneakers effect” refers to people’s inclination to infer status and competence from signals of nonconformity. In the current research we explore an untested possible boundary condition to the red sneakers effect within the context of personnel selection. In two studies, we examined how (non)conforming dress style interacts with the quality of a job applicant’s resume to determine hirability perceptions. We found that dress style indeed impacts hirability perceptions, but that the exact impact depends on the quality of the applicant’s resume. Results revealed that applicants with a low quality resume were punished for behaving in a nonconforming way, whereas applicants with a high quality resume appeared to have more leeway regarding the way they dress. Importantly, the observed interaction effect was mediated by perceptions of power. These findings suggest that nonconforming dress acts as a power-signaling mechanism in the context of personnel selection. However, the signaling effects of nonconforming dress style can backfire when accompanied by evidence that such posturing is not matched by cues of actual competence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
EventAcademy of Management conference - Chicago, United States
Duration: 3 Aug 20187 Aug 2018


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