Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Ecology

Document Type



The purpose of the study was to investigate values and other social and psychological factors influence on dress and appearance of African American college students (AACS). The dependent variable was dress and appearance. Independent variables consisted of external values (being well-respected, security, warm relationships with others, and sense of belonging) and internal values (self-respect, sense of accomplishment, fun and enjoyment, self-fulfillment, and excitement). Included in the independent variables were social factors (media and referents' influence (peers and family)) and psychological factors (self-consciousness, self-confidence, fashion leadership, and shopping enjoyment). Social adaptation theory provided the theoretical framework. The theory encompasses the social and psychological aspects of an individual's thinking and reasoning. The underlying basis of social adaptation theory states that information is absorbed into existing cognitive structures, such as an individual's values. A web-based survey was used to collect data of 282 AACS, freshman through graduate level, on two college campuses in a U.S. southern state. It was emailed to students by university personnel. As an incentive to complete the survey, participants were offered a university logo item. External values had a positive relationship with this group of AACS' dress and appearance. Internal values were most important in the daily lives of AACS in this study. Those internal values were sense of accomplishment, self-respect, fun and enjoyment and self-fulfillment. The most important value of all values was self-respect. Of the social factors, media was a better predictor of dress and appearance than family and peers. In regard to the psychological factors, all of the variables contributed to the influence of dress and appearance, with fashion leadership having the greatest influence. Hypothesis one: Internal and external values influence dress and appearance of AACS, was partially supported. Hypothesis two: Referents will be the most influential social factor on dress and appearance was not supported. Hypothesis three: Fashion leadership will be the most influential psychological factor on dress and appearance was supported. Dress and appearance of AACS was influenced by external values, media, and the psychological factors - fashion leadership, self-consciousness, self-confidence, and shopping enjoyment.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Bonnie Belleau



Included in

Human Ecology Commons