A recent study showed women “dress defensively” in the workplace to avoid provoking intrasexual aggression.
The study, published in Social Psychology and Personal Science, was authored by assistant professor of psychology at Oklahoma State University Jaimie Aroma Krems, according to a report published Sunday by PsyPost.
Women actively defend themselves against same-sex aggression. Women perceived as sexually permissive +/or desirable attract more same-sex aggression. We show women are aware of this + some might #DressDefensively to avoid other women’s slings + arrows. https://t.co/CKBzrZvRDg pic.twitter.com/mxwiYe79pc
— Jaimie Arona Krems (@JaimieKrems) November 21, 2019
The experiments had 584 women participate, and focused on how women dressed in different social settings. The study found that women who participated were more likely to choose modest outfits when meeting a group of all-females than when meeting a group of mixed genders. The tendency to dress more modest was higher in women who rated themselves physically attractive.
“More specifically, women are deeply rational and strategic; women are aware of the threats posed by others and act in ways to avoid those threats,” researchers concluded. “Here, for example, we show that women are aware that appearing and/or dressing certain ways make them more likely targets of other women’s aggression, and that, in situations where this knowledge is salient, and for women most at risk of incurring aggression, women then choose to dress in ways might help them avoid others women’s slings and arrows.”
“So much social psychology has focused on men’s cognition and behavior, or has long assumed that male psychology is the default,” author Jaimie Arona Krems told PsyPost. “But men and women can also face some distinct challenges, and this seems especially true when we consider how women navigate their same-sex social worlds.” (RELATED: STUDY: Women Prefer Men Who Are Overweight And Have Dad Bodies)
In situations where women who rated themselves attractive were meeting a potential friend, female or male, they tended to dress less revealing. Women who didn’t rate themselves attractive, however, dressed more revealing when meeting a prospective friend over an existing friend.
“Like much of my research, this project arose out of a desire to explore how women actively, strategically navigate those underexplored worlds,” she added.
Researchers noted factors besides attempting to avoid issues with women could influence how a woman chooses to dress as well.
“We would not argue that other women are always the sole intended audience for women’s sartorial cues and/or signals, and even when other women are the intended audience, we would not expect that women’s sartorial choices are always calibrated only toward avoiding intrasexual aggression,” the researchers concluded.