December 13, 2013

Enclothed cognition.

A term for "the mental changes that we undergo when we wear certain clothing."
"It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing," [Northwestern researcher Hajo] Adam said. And he thinks the study’s results can be applied to many more fields, including activewear and fitness. "I think it would make sense that when you wear athletic clothing, you become more active and more likely to go to the gym and work out."
The linked article is almost entirely about athletic clothing, and there's almost nothing about the researchers' study and the term "enclothed cognition" which amused me enough to start this post. The insight seems so obvious — dressing the part will help you play the part — that it seems funny to have a term for it.

What I think would be fun to talk about is articles of clothing that you have used to alter your perceptions. And have you rejected items of clothing that you thought would skew your perceptions in ways you didn't like? Remember to exclude the idea of how others perceive you and how their response to you will affect you. It's just you. You and that item of clothing. Like this:



ADDED: Here's an Amazon link to a page where you can buy a nice porkpie hat, like the one Walter White uses to achieve enclothed cognition in "Breaking Bad." I searched only for "porkpie hat" and did not mention anything more "Breaking Bad"-related than that, but the Amazon page showed not only other elements for a Walter White costume (jacket, glasses, yellow coveralls) but also packets of blue raspberry rock candy.

23 comments:

tim maguire said...

That's a tough distinction. My main mental adjustment arising from clothing is actually a result of my expectation of how others will see me.

Even "I look good!" is really "Other people will think I look good!"

Ann Althouse said...

In the studies, they've done things like put half of the participants in lab coats and found that they were better at math!

virgil xenophon said...

And how much of this is conscious planning and how much unconscious? Was Fred Astaire's trademark neck-tie used-as-a-belt done consciously to make a fashion statement or did he simply forget to pack his belt for a trip one day and when unpacking expediently used the next best thing he had available--then continue to use it after the compliments came rolling in??

Bob Boyd said...

I think I heard the phrase "enclothed cognition" once before. It was a drunk friend calling at three in morning, trying to explain that he'd locked his keys in his car.

My friend was lucky. I was wearing Speedos and a filthy bathrobe at the time, so I was feeling magnanimous.

JAFC said...

As a guy who regularly wears a kilt in NYC, I can assure you that not only do people look at you differently, you carry yourself differently. The first time a coworker saw me in uniform, he said "You look like you're 7 feet tall."

I got caught up in "Breaking Bad", and got myself a pork pie hat. It has something of the same effect.

C Stanley said...

I've tried to do the athletic clothing thing but just found that the clothes are comfortable so I end up wearing them through my daily activities of errands and driving the kids around, and skip the gym anyway.

Moose said...

"I feel pretty! Oh so pretty!" This has been a female thing for some time, using clothes to change how they see the world...

09910c88-640f-11e3-bba1-000bcdcb471e said...

I discovered this does not always work after purchasing a lovely ski ensemble. The outfit did not improve my ability to get down the mountain on two skinny pieces of wood. Although I did fit in nicely at the bar. Several people even asked me to participate in a ski race the following day and were quite surprised when told I could not ski.

William said...

I'm into enclothed ossification. I wear jeans and a sweatshirt because that's what I wore when I was young. Such an outfit doesn't make me feel more stylish or competent or trustworthy, but I do feel younger than when I wear a suit.

Mr. Forward said...

When I wear my cut resistant Kevlar chainsaw boots and pants I am freaking Paul Bunyan.

Jaske said...

Bugs Bonnets.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugs'_Bonnets

No video, You Tube deleted it for copyright infringement.

Jaske said...

Bugs Bonnets video.

https://archive.org/details/BugsBonnets

Broomhandle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christy said...

Skiing in jeans and a cowboy hat always felt vaguely transgressive and ensured I skied my best.

Don't stilettos make all us women feel fabulous?

Christy said...

Skiing in jeans and a cowboy hat always felt vaguely transgressive and ensured I skied my best.

Don't stilettos make all us women feel fabulous?

Kirk Parker said...

Actually, I think the quote you open with works much better w/o the editorial addition:

"It’s all about the symbolic meaning that you associate with a particular item of clothing," Adam said."

See? :-)

Ann Althouse said...

@Kirk

LOL.

I was just talking about Adam and Eve in that other post today.

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Conserve Liberty said...

When wearing a Dinner Jacket I certainly feel as though my posture is better.

Beldar said...

Wait, is this another post about men wearing shorts?

Jim said...

Many actors speak about "finding" their characters once the inhabit their costumes/makeup.

Unknown said...

With me it's not articles of clothing that you have used to alter your perceptions, it's jewelry; specifically a very fine watch and a sterling silver cuff bracelet. Once they're on, I'm ready for anything!

Fausta

ken in sc said...

My 9th grade literature book contained a short story, I think it was called “Clothes Make the Man”. It was about two crooks, set in Paris. One of them was to dress up like a policeman and act as a look-out while the other committed a robbery. People kept coming up to the one dressed as a policeman, asking directions, and treating him with so much respect, that he came to really enjoy his role. He blew his whistle at people J-walking and directed traffic on the street. When his friend came out with the loot, he arrested him.