Amy Briggs
Thesis Web Page

Keywords: Self-Esteem, Group Identity, Adolescents, School Uniforms

Instruments: Stanely Coopersmith Self- Esteem Inventory, Group Indetity Questionaire

    Our society places great emphasis on the importance of clothing and style of dress. From an early age children are taught how to dress themselves in an appropriate manner, and what goes together and what does not in terms of clothing. Considerable research has been done on the subject of clothing and how it effects the way that an individual is perceived by others, and how the individual perceives himself and others.

    Several public school districts have recently decided to adopt a dress code or uniform policy for students, a change from the traditional no regulation policy of public schools nation wide. This trend has raised issues surrounding the use of uniforms in schools, for example; whether or not uniforms have an effect on academic performance, the possible decrease in the rate of violent crimes that occur in schools over student's clothing, and the whether wearing a uniform infringes on a student's sense of creativity.

    The purpose of this study was to touch upon some of the issues that surround the issue of uniforms in public schools by looking at self-esteem and perceived sense of group identity in students who wore a uniform, or had a dress code, in high school, compared to those students who did not. This study hypothesized that students who had worn a uniform, or had a dress code, in high school, would have a greater sense of group identity, and also a higher self-esteem. Fifty-seven college students participated in this study. Two measures were used to assess the possible link between self-esteem, group identity, and the style of dress that subjects wore in high school. All subjects were asked to complete the Coopersmtih Self-Esteem Inventory, a Group Identity Questionnaire, and a series of questions based on the subject's reaction to four photographed sets of models. Each photograph represented a different style of dress. The results of the data did not directly support the hypothesis, but the data did identify several trends across the three groups that were of interest. The mean score the Coopersmith Sefl-Esteem Inventory was higher for the dress code group than for the uniform group and the non-uniform group, the mean score for the dress code group was 77, compared to a mean score if 73 for the other two groups. The uniform group and the dress code group did yield similar mean scores for their response to the photographs, indicating that the subjects in those two groups had similar reactions to the four photographs. The non-uniform group mean score for the photographs were higher, indicating a greater sense of disagreement with the statements made about the models. This difference in score across the three groups, may represent a different idea about peer perception for each of the groups. Further studies focusing on self-esteem, group identity, and other possible factors of influence concerning dress and self perception should be used to look at the incorporation of uniforms and other forms of dress codes in schools, both public and private.

For further information, check out these links:  School Uniforms     Pro vs  Con