The theory of en-clothed cognition

The theory of en-clothed cognition

Did you ever wondered why we are so interested in our clothes, why we choose a specific outfit for the day or why beside the fact that our closet is full we “have nothing to wear”? Well most of the time we dress to impress, meaning that we want people to perceive us in a specific way. Sad but true, people nowadays give more importance to the outside image than the inner world. They spend more time in looking good than becoming a better person. Like it or not, people do make assumptions about a person base on how is dressed.

The theory of en-clothed cognition suggests that clothes has a significant effect on our subconscious mind and therefore on our performance in life. The theory was developed by the psychologists Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam through the Lab Coat Experiment and is based on two principles, the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the act of wearing. In order to test their idea, they used white lab coats. The symbolic meaning of white lab coats is that usually are worn by scientists who have specific traits like attentiveness to detail. A Stroop Test, which is designed to test selective attention, was made to fifty-eight students for the first study. Half of them wearing the lab coat and the other half not, they were shown words denoting different colors, and they had to name the color of the word. For instance, if they were shown the word red written in black ink they had to answer black. The experiment showed that the students wearing the lab coats made 50% less mistakes than the students who did not.

The second part of the experiment was to prove that not only the act of wearing matter but also the symbolic meaning of the clothes. The participants had to spot the differences between two similar images and this time were separated into three groups. To the first group was given a white lab coat to wear, to the second group was just shown the coat before the test and finally to the third group was given to wear the same coats as the first group but they were told it’s a painter’s coat. In this case, the first group performed remarkably better than the other groups.

The conclusion based on this theory is that clothes not only shape the perception of others about us but most importantly shape our own perception upon ourselves and our performance in what we want to achieve. So get out there and dress like the future version of yourself!

Find more about how clothing affects our subconscious on Confidence Dressing: How Clothing Affects the Mind | Vogue

Source “Introducing ‘Enclothed Cognition’ – How What We Wear Affects How We Think.” Research Digest [Online] Available at: [Accessed on: 03/06/2021]

The theory of en-clothed cognition

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