Do the clothes make the man (or woman)?
A recent study seems to support this idea. It has long been known that what goes on with your body affects how your mind works: If you force yourself to smile, you’ll understand jokes more easily; if you tense your muscles, you’re better able to resist tempting food or tackle a difficult task.
Having a mind-body link is one thing; but this study seems to indicate there is a mind-clothes link. The researchers tested the effect of wearing a white lab coat on people’s powers of observation. They found that people who wore the white coats made about half as many errors as people who didn’t. It didn’t work if the subjects thought the white coat was a painter’s smock, or if they just handled it. They had to think it was a lab coat and put it on.
This tells us that our clothes are an extension of our bodies. That $1000 Armani suit doesn’t just look natty–it also may help you mix more easily with the crowd; blue jeans aren’t just practical, they could facilitate creative thinking. Embodied cognition posits that human intelligence is about the interaction between mind, body, and the world. Clothes affect more than our mood. They seem to alter the way we think.
Clothes may not make us what we are, but they do have a powerful effect.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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