Kraft Heinz Jan2020

Enclothed Cognition

Did you know it takes us just three minutes – 180 seconds to decide whether we like someone or not – a process based on how the person looks, dresses, smells and sounds.

According to psychologist and author Ben Kay, it’s all to do with instinct. But whilst it is important to look good and dress well to create the right first impression, can how we dress ourselves and our staff affect how we all work?

Yes, according to American psychologists, who have coined the term ‘enclothed cognition’. They believe how we dress, particularly if told a uniform represents a particular job, ‘primes’ us to act in certain ways.

To support this view, students at various American universities were recruited to trials which saw them split into different groups. One test group was given a white coat, which they were told was a doctor’s coat. Another group was given the same white coat but told it was a painter’s coat. They were then assigned the same ‘spot the difference’ type task. The ‘doctor’ group performed significantly better in spotting differences than the ‘painters’.

The test was then repeated amongst students dressed in their everyday ‘street’ clothes and those told to wear the white lab coat of a scientist. The ‘scientists’ significantly out-performed their coat-less peers.

The phenomenon is explained in the term ‘enclothed cognition’, which suggests we behave appropriately to what we have on. So the moral of the tale is that if you want your staff to be as professional as possible for the job you’ve tasked them with, dress them in a way that reflects their responsibility!

For top tips on how to dress your staff for success click here.

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