The Echoes of the Mind (137-7) Artifactual Messages

Artifactual Messages

Artifactual messages are conveyed through objects and arrangements made by human hands. These include clothing, jewelry, and decoration of space.

Clothes make the man. ~ Mark Twain

Attractiveness involves more than physical features. It involves style of dress, manner, cleanliness, and other attributes.

It’s who you look like, not who you are. ~ American musician Jackson Browne in the song “Rosie” (1977)

In the professional world, clothes are a kind of uniform: unwritten rules prescribe standards and styles throughout a socioeconomic hierarchy.

Clothing and jewelry indicate class. A conservative dress style wins influence through its association with social status. Jewelry is a cultural display which also may indicate religious affiliation.

By the appearance we cultivate, we usually attempt to enhance our physical attractiveness, for an attractive appearance often influences people profoundly in our favor. We also use personal appearance to help us act our social roles. ~ English social psychologist Peter Marsh

The right style for a woman is more problematic than for a man. Women must not look too feminine, but neither must they appear masculine.

The influence of look through style is well-known. A man in a dark business suit, or a woman in a sober but stylish ensemble, is more likely to receive help from strangers.

In one experiment, a man in high-status clothes violated the “Don’t Walk” sign at a city pedestrian crossing. Others followed. But when the same man was dressed in manual worker’s garb, followers were few.

Color choice is itself a psychologically significant statement. Though the mental resonances of color are biologically based, the associative meanings of different colors vary among cultures.

Somber colors suggest ambition. This link is stronger in men, but also applies to women.

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A man’s own attractiveness is less important in making an impression than the woman hanging on his arm. A man with a physically attractive companion is generally perceived as being of higher status, wealthier, and more intelligent than one accompanied by an unattractive woman. If a man who falls short in the looks department can gain the attentions of a beauty, then he must have other meaningful qualities.

Women do not make the same kind of impression through their partner. Women are judged solely on their looks.

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Choice of clothes may betray underlying personality. Men only interested in the practical aspects of clothing tend to be rather cautious, with low social motivation and some sense of dissatisfaction. But women with this approach instead tend to be intelligent and confident, albeit reluctant to reveal much about themselves.

Males very interested in fashion tend to be warm, helpful, and often a bit impulsive. Fashion-oriented women are something else entirely: they tend to have fairly low academic achievement and generally hold conservative views. Such women also tend to be the most religious, at least in Christian cultures.

Part of a woman’s dress style has to do with sexual attraction. This often involves how much is revealed rather than covered up: particularly the breasts, to which men are biologically compelled.

Of course, clothing is not an ideal display of personality: what people wear reflects their social environment.