YANSS Podcast 25 – How the clothes you wear change your perceptions and behaviors with Hajo Adam

The Topic: Enclothed Cognition

The Guest: Hajo Adam

The Episode: DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

Take the YANSS Podcast survey, win a $100 Amazon Gift Card: http://www.podsurvey.com/yanss

When you work from home, do you produce better results in pajamas or professional attire? Do casual Fridays damage productivity? Does a jeans-and-T-shirt startup have an edge over its business-casual competitor?

Researchers are just now getting to the bottom of questions like these. The answers depend on the symbolic power the particular item of clothing has in the mind of the particular wearer, but the answer to each question is never “not at all.”

Up until now, most psychological investigations into clothing have dealt with how clothes communicate status or facilitate rituals. For instance, if you put a person in a police uniform and have them ask questions or make demands you’ll get completely different results than if you had the same person wear a pirate costume. But what about the person in the uniform or the costume? Are the clothes affecting his or her behavior, thoughts, judgments, and decisions? The evidence collected so far suggests that yes, the clothes we wear affect our minds in ways we never notice. In fact, it’s likely the same person in the same situation in the same clothes will behave differently depending just on the color of those clothes.

Hajo AdamIn this episode of the YANSS Podcast we explore enclothed cognition, and I interview one of the researchers who discovered the phenomenon. Hajo Adam, a professor of management and researcher at Rice University’s School of Business, explains how he and Adam Galinsky, a business professor at Columbia University, conducted the studies that showed people wearing lab coats perform better on tests of mental ability than people wearing street clothes.

After the interview, I discuss a news story about how eyewitness testimony gets progressively less reliable the farther away the eyes of the witness from the crime.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Todd Newman who submitted a recipe for perfect chocolate chip cookies with browned butter. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Perfect CC

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Hajo Adam 

Adam Galinsky

Distance influences accuracy of eyewitness IDs

The Enclothed Cognition Study


Adam, Hajo, and Adam D. Galinsky. “Enclothed Cognition.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48, no. 4 (2012): 918– 25.

Bargh, John A., Mark Chen, and Lara Burrows. “Automaticity of Social Behavior: Direct Effects of Trait Construct and Stereotype Activation on Action.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71, no. 2 (1996): 230– 44.

“Suitably Dressed.” The Economist. Dec. 16, 2010. Web: Apr. 2012, http://www.economist.com/ node/ 17722802.

Eddie Robertson and his Tunic
Eddie Robertson and his tabard tunic