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Ponnada: Dress for success

BY SRI PONNADA | SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 6:30 AM

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Have you ever heard the phrase “dress for success”? You may have thought that this was true to some extent. Looking nice attracts new pals and paramours, but who goes shopping for companions in class?

It’s a lot easier to throw on some sweats and call it day. It’s also become fashionable. Retailers such as Abercrombie and Fitch and Aeropostale have been displaying more loungewear.

However, wearing pajamas to school may not necessarily be the best idea, and scientists at Northwestern University agree. They use the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychology.

As part of the experiment, 58 undergraduate students were made to wear white doctor’s coats and split into two groups: One half were told that they were wearing doctor’s coats, and the other were told that they were wearing a painter’s coats. After being put through a small test to measure cognitive abilities, scientists observed that the group wearing the “doctor’s coats” had performed significantly better than the other group. They had a heightened attention span despite were wearing identical coats.

As reported by the New York Times, Professor Adam Galinsky, who led the study, believes that clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.

It’s amazing the effects our clothes have on us. It’s like dressing up to be part of a play. You couldn’t possibly persuade anyone, or even yourself, that you’re Romeo if you’re in a Hunchback of Notre Dame costume.

Then, how can we expect to be productive and pay attention when we’re wearing our jammies and our bodies feel like we’re at home on the couch watching television? It’s not just disadvantageous to us but also unfair to our professors. If they’re taking the time to look presentable for class, so should we.

Time to lose the pajamas and at least put on a pair of jeans.


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