The Forest Scout

For the Health of It: Dressing for Success

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For the Health of It: Dressing for Success

Eleanor Asma

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As the saying goes, you should always dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

The term “enclothed cognition” has been introduced to the Psychology world to propose the influence which clothing can have on an individual’s cognitive processes.

According to a 2012 study, this theory was evidently confirmed. The experiment tested the effects of clothing on the performance and behavior of individuals by providing a lab coat labeled either a doctor’s coat or a painters coat. Those wearing doctors coats maintained a higher level of sustained concentration when presented with attention-related tasks, compared to the white jacket described as a painter’s coat.  

Thus, the current research suggests a basic principle of enclothed cognition.

This kind of study is a twist off of the well covered theory of, “embodied cognition” — that the mind does not simply affect the body, but the body can just as easily influence the mind. For example, cues like holding a warm drink will result in a warmer perception of one’s personality, or if you carry a heavy clipboard around with you, you will feel more important.

The symbolic meaning that is associated with particular items of clothing is essentially what influences our cognitive processes. Popular brands such as Lululemon have found a way to format their fitness wear so that it is not only functional, but fashionable as well. Through wearing fitness clothes like this on a more regular, social basis — it would make sense that one would feel more inclined to be more active and feel a stronger inclination to workout.

Dress like a doctor, you’ll pay more attention; dress like an athlete, you’ll be more inclined towards physical fitness. “Once you start feeling better, you’re gonna dress the way you feel,” states psychologist and personal trainer, Susan Rudnicki. “Your clothes represent your inner motivation and feelings. It’s a feedback loop—I feel good, so I’m going to wear the things that make me look good.”

So, next time you need that extra boost of motivation, take off the sweatshirts and sweatpants and put on some of your weekly best. You’ll be more ready to achieve goals, and most importantly, you’ll be overall dressed for success.

About the Writer
Eleanor Asma, Author

Eleanor Asma is a senior at Lake Forest High School and a writer for the Forest Scout. Eleanor is highly interested in health sciences and enjoys researching...

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