The effects of attire, location, and sex on aiding behavior: A similarity explanation


This study examined two distinct theoretical explanations for the effect of attire on aiding behavior. The reinforcing value of attire itself predicted that well-dressed persons would always receive more assistance than poorly dressed persons. The reinforcing value of perceived similarity predicted that similar persons would receive more assistance than dissimilar persons. Female confederates (N=17) who were well-dressed or poorly dressed approached males and females in an airport or bus station asking for a dime to complete a telephone call. Well-dressed confederates received more money at the airport; poorly dressed confederates received more money at the bus station. These results were interpreted as support for the similarity hypothesis.

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Correspondence to Wayne E. Hensley.

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An earlier version of this paper was competitively selected to be presented to the communication theory interest group at the Central States Communication Association convention in St. Louis, Missouri, April 5–7, 1979.

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Hensley, W.E. The effects of attire, location, and sex on aiding behavior: A similarity explanation. J Nonverbal Behav 6, 3–11 (1981).

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  • Social Psychology
  • Telephone Call
  • Theoretical Explanation
  • Similarity Explanation
  • Similarity Hypothesis