Enclothed cognition


We don’t just think with our minds, we think with our bodies. So research says, not I. The study, led by Adam D. Galinsky in 2012, demonstrated that people wearing a white doctor’s coat experienced improved attention capabilities. This did not happen when they were told the white coat they were wearing was a painter’s coat, which led the scientists to conclude that it’s not only how the clothes look and feel, but also how we associate them, their symbolic meaning, that influences us. Enclothed cognition, they called it.

My fascination with clothes comes hand in hand with the eternal preoccupation with identity and reinvention. Creating, finding identity is a never-ending undertaking. Even the image in the mirror is surprising at times, like I’ve never taken full shape inside my head, or the shape is changing so fast and so often that I cannot commit it to memory accurately enough. I don’t know where creating who we are starts, why and when it’s supposed to end, but I know that clothes play a big part. And that’s not because have such great effect on how others perceive us but because of how they actually change who we are.

Enclothed cognition.

I think self transformation efforts are a form of hope. Like there is no end to who we can be. It helps us keep dreaming, keep rearranging the world in ways that feel better to us, in ways that are more inclusive, more nurturing, that make us happier. At another time of my life I wold have considered constant reinvention of weakness of character. At that time in my life, permanence seemed like the desirable trajectory for the world, but now I think that flux is what is and will always be at the core of all human experience. Clothes help us keep up with that. They help us move along and change by our own rules. Live like we have some control.

(I added an outfit picture to this post. I had dressed that day for a couple of meetings. I wanted to feel like a competent creative professional. It worked for me.)

2 thoughts on “Enclothed cognition

  1. rachel

    Wow, this is so interesting. I knew that performance could be improved or worsened by verbal suggestion, but I had no idea our clothes were so instrumental in our performance, too.

    Your outfit makes you appear very smart and intellectual, imo. In fact, my comment may not be intelligent enough!

    • Lori

      Right? Looking smart and intellectual is always high on my list! Although I do like to think that there is little I can do to look less than smart and intellectual 🙂 That also means that I often fear I look uptight and like I take myself too seriously, which is not my ideal look. Well, I’m still a work in progress, what can I say.

Comments are closed.