Do Clothes Affect How We Think and Behave?
In an episode of the ‘The Simpsons,’ quiet kids in gray uniforms suddenly become more lively and animated when rain washes away the gray and reveals the color underneath. It made a researcher at Northwestern University wonder — does what we wear affect our personalities?
Turns out it does. Adam Galinsky, a professor of ethics and decision in management at Northwestern University, authored a study that revealed a connection between between clothing and psychology and gave birth to the term “enclothed cognition.”
In the study, participants were asked to put on a white lab coat. When the researchers described it as a “doctor’s coat,” the volunteers became more attentive — an effect not seen when researchers instead called the garment an artist’s or painter’s coat. Instead, that terminology made people feel more creative.
“Clothes cognition is really about becoming the clothes themselves and having them direct who you are and how you act in the world,” Galinsky said. ”If you put on a black T-shirt, you become more aggressive. You put on a nurse’s uniform, you become more helpful.”
“When we are putting on a suit,” he continued, “we are not only giving impressions to other people, but we are also giving an impression to ourselves. We feel the rich, silk fabric on our arms; that allows us to take on the characteristics of those clothes.”