The White–Coat Effect: Physician Attire and Perceived Authority, Friendliness, and Attractiveness

Authors

  • Gary L. Brase,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Sunderland Sunderland, United Kingdom
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gary L. Brase, who is now at the Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri–Columbia, 210 McAlester Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. E–mail: braseg@missouri.edu
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  • Jillian Richmond

    1. University of Sunderland Sunderland, United Kingdom
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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gary L. Brase, who is now at the Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri–Columbia, 210 McAlester Hall, Columbia, MO 65211. E–mail: braseg@missouri.edu

Abstract

Although previous studies have evaluated the effects of attire on doctor–patient interaction, the common assumption of a tradeoff between perceptions of medical authority/ status versus trustworthiness/openness has not been established. Thirty–eight male and 40 female participants rated their perceptions of same– and opposite–gender models who all were identified as doctors, but who were wearing different attire. The results indicate that authority and trust are not opposing factors and that a white coat and formal attire are clearly superior to casual attire. Additionally, perceptions of attractiveness of same– and opposite–gender doctors were rated, finding gender differences in perceptions different from, but theoretically similar to, prior findings. For females rating male models, perceptions of authority and attractiveness appear to be related.

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