Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Bethany Renwick 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Bethany Renwick and I am from Co. Wexford. My interests in Applied Psychology mostly concern social and transpersonal psychology, with a particular focus on how both disciplines attempt to explain group dynamics and the Self. I have taken part in various team-work projects and leadership roles in my academic, work, volunteering and personal life, but my passion is to work towards bringing people together. My goal is to deepen my understanding of how to foster senses of interconnectedness within communities and organisations.

Project Description

In-group bias has been observed across age, religion, socioeconomic class, and race. In-group bias can result in harmful biases that lead to stereotyping and discrimination. However, recent research argues that harmful implicit biases do not have to involve marginalised groups, and that in-group bias can occur even based on 'unimportant', arbitrary groupings. When an individual's membership of a group is based on an aspect of their identity that is important to their self-concept, in-group bias is more likely to occur. This project aimed to investigate in-group bias among college students, based on the degree to which clothing is an important part of their self-identity.

Project Objectives

Title: Self-Identification using clothing among college students and its effect on in-group bias.
In-group bias has been identified as one of the leading causes of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. The present study used the concept of 'style tribes' to identify group attitudes towards others based on clothing. The aim of the study was to investigate in-group bias among college students based on the degree to which they self-identify using clothing. One hundred college students were recruited to complete an online questionnaire for the study (61% female, 31% male, 8% other, with 94% of students aged 18-24). A one-way between groups analysis of covariance was conducted to analyse the data. 'Openness' as a personality trait was also measured, as this trait is likely to negatively effect the chances of in-group bias occurring.

Project Outcomes

Results suggested that college students who had clothing as an important part of their self-identity were not more likely to show bias towards others who share their 'style tribe'. However, the data collected showed unusually high 'openness' among the sample, which may be due to the campus culture of IADT students. The high degrees of 'openness' in the sample may be why no significant bias was detected statistically. The findings illuminate insights into the effectiveness of diversity training and inclusivity efforts of organisations on reducing biases among their population. The concept may be built upon in future studies by using samples from organisational settings, in management, hiring, HR and criminal justice, where it may be more pertinent to detect biases based on clothing, particularly in terms of discrimination the lower socioeconomic class may suffer as a result of such bias in these settings.

Thesis Title

Self-identification using clothing among college students and its effect on in-group bias