We introduce the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes. We offer a potentially unifying framework to integrate past findings and capture the diverse impact that clothes can have on the wearer by proposing that enclothed cognition involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors—the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them. As a first test of our enclothed cognition perspective, the current research explored the effects of wearing a lab coat. A pretest found that a lab coat is generally associated with attentiveness and carefulness. We therefore predicted that wearing a lab coat would increase performance on attention-related tasks. In Experiment 1, physically wearing a lab coat increased selective attention compared to not wearing a lab coat. In Experiments 2 and 3, wearing a lab coat described as a doctor's coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter's coat, and compared to simply seeing or even identifying with a lab coat described as a doctor's coat. Thus, the current research suggests a basic principle of enclothed cognition—it depends on both the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothes.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Clothes can invade our body and brain...
Adam and Galinsky offer an interesting variant of studies on embodied cognition, a topic that MindBlog has frequently visited (35 postings, see left column) - showing that clothing can invade our body and brain, putting us into a different psychological state. After citing numerous studies of how clothes we wear have power over others, they do a discrete experiment to demonstrate a power of clothing over ourselves, specifically the power and accuracy of our attention: