Cryptic Signalling: Hidden Markers of Inclusivity in Service Environments

Gavin Northey, Griffith University
Kelly Choong, Edith Cowan University
Rory Mulcahy, University of Sunshine Coast
Eugene Chan, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University)

Award Amount: $2,000



This project examines the use of implicit badges as a way to provide ‘cryptic’ support for LGBTQ+ community that is recognised by LGBTQ+ members but not the broader population. Some organizations encourage staff, including frontline service delivery personnel, to wear uniform badges (like the rainbow flag pin) that represent a cause. Badges are one of the ingredients that create a ‘symbolic servicescape’ (Rosenbaum, 2005) where objects and artefacts evoke similar meanings across the customer base. However, not all badges are created equal. This is because some badges, like the ubiquitous rainbow flag, are “explicit” representations that are well known across the broader population. By contrast, other “implicit” badges, such as the pink triangle that today represents support for LGBTQ+ people, are less well known across the broader population but are highly significant to members of the sub-culture. This research examines the different influence explicit and implicit badges have on consumer attitudes, and how an individual's political ideology shapes their emotional response. Two lab studies provide an initial test and support for our hypotheses. This grant application is to conduct field studies in Australia and Canada, not only for generalizability and external validity purposes, but also for social purposes.


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