Uniformity in Dress: A Worldwide Cross-Cultural Comparison

Human Nature Vol/Iss. 34 Springer Science+Business Media Published In Pages: 359–380
By Ember, Carol R., McCarter, Abbe, Ringen, Erik J.


This study follows the theoretical construct of general cultural tightness and looseness (TL). Tightness is thought to be adaptive when facing socioecological threat, such as resource stress, since it involves a greater amount of cooperation. The study asks: "Why do some societies have relatively standardized or uniform clothing and adornment, whereas others have considerable variability across individuals?", which is connected to the broader question of why some societies show more within-group variation. The authors use a sample of 80 non-industrial societies from SCSS, to explore the relationship between general cultural tightness and standardization or synchrony in dress. The results support that tighter societies have more uniformity in dress and that resource stress is a predictor of synchrony. However, it is not supported that egalitarian societies have more synchrony, and that tightness is positively predicted by resource stress.


Sample Used Coded Data Comment
Standard Cross Cultural Sample (SCCS)Combination80 non-industrial societies dating from 1634 to 1963.

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