They say that clothes make the man, but can they make the man (or woman) more successful at work? Recent research by the Kellogg School of Management suggests that it can. It’s something called the lab coat effect, and you can use it to make yourself more confident in your job.
Generally, when we think of dressing to impress, we think of the effect our clothes have on others, but this study reveals that we’re also impressing ourselves. Christian Jarrett at 99u explains:
“[The findings] showed that students were far more accurate on tests of attentional focus and sustained concentration while wearing the white lab coat of a scientist. Crucially, spending time thinking about the lab coat didn’t have this benefit, it had to be worn.”
Participants were unaffected if they thought the white coat was a painter’s jacket. Only when they thought of it as a symbol of success did the jacket have the desired effect.
So how should this affect our clothing choices for work? Obviously, we’re not going to start donning lab coats for jobs that don’t place in a lab, or even business suits (also found to boost confidence in another study cited by Jarrett) for jobs at startups. But dressing to impress both others and ourselves can help us be more successful at work.
Anyway, it’s another good reason to skip the sweatpants, no matter how relaxed your company dress code is.
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