We all know that clothes do so much more than keep us warm. They allow us to express ourselves and can affect the way other people see us. They can make us feel confident and help accentuate our unique features. (On the flip side, they can make us feel awkward and uncomfortable.)
But there's another way the clothes we wear can impact us that you may not be aware of.
Lulu Miller, Alix Spiegel, and Hanna Rosin, who host NPR's podcast Invisibilia, set out to explore how fashion can affect the brain. In a video for ELLE, they explain how they recreated an experiment that showed what you wear can actually influence how you perform on a test. The experiment was initially performed by Adam Galinsky, a researcher who published his findings in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2012.
It basically goes like this. They wanted to find out if wearing a white, doctor's lab coat could make people do better on a complicated attention task versus doing it in street clothes.
So, they gathered a bunch of Invisibilia listeners and asked half them of them to put on the white coat.
They showed them a series of words that looked like this:
Then, they asked them to say the color of the text that the word is written in. This is known as the "Stroop Effect Test." Of course, it takes some serious concentration because the color of the word is different than what the word says.
What Galinsky and his team found was that people were able to perform significantly better on this attention test if they were wearing the lab coat. "The people wearing the lab coat made about half as many errors suggesting that they were definitely paying more attention," Galinsky said in the video.
Then, they tried to same experiment but told people that instead of a doctor's coat, it was a painter's coat. However, it was the exact same coat. The strange thing? It had barely any effect on their abilities.
"What we found is it's not just the material of the clothes themselves," Galinsky said. "But what the key aspect is that symbolic association with it."
While the doctors coat symbolizes concentration and intelligence, the painter's coat symbolizes creativity, freedom, and craziness.
A doctor's coat may just be the superpower you need to do better on your next exam.