Authors of Lab Coat Study Wonder Whether Judicial Robes Spur Changes in Behavior
Do clothes make the person? A study looking at an aspect of that question has found that test subjects wearing white lab coats performed better on tests requiring close attention.
The study by Northwestern University researchers Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam concluded that clothing can have power over ourselves as well as others, according to the Washington Post blog On Leadership and Miller-McCune.
One test required subjects to name the color of a word flashed on a computer screen, while ignoring the word itself, according to Miller-McCune. When the color on screen differed from the word identifying a color, those in lab coats made about half as many errors as those in their regular attire.
In a second test, subjects in white coats who were told they were wearing lab coats performed better when asked to identify differences in two nearly identical pictures than subjects who were told they were wearing artist coats.
The researchers wondered about the implications. “Does wearing the robe of a priest or judge make people more ethical?” they wrote. “Does putting on the uniform of a firefighter make people act more courageously? And perhaps even more interestingly, do the effects of physically wearing a particular form of clothing wear off over time, as people become habituated to it?”