White Coat Lulu Miller introduces us to a scientist who is trying to figure out if clothes can change us in concrete, measurable ways.
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White Coat

Lulu Miller introduces us to a scientist who is trying to figure out if clothes can change us in concrete, measurable ways. In a Northwestern University study by Adam Galinsky and Hajo Adam, the mere act of wearing a doctor's coat made participants perform better on an attention task than participants who wore the same exact coat... but believed it was a painter's coat.

We partnered with Elle magazine to make a video about this experiment. Check it out!

Ever wanted to feel smarter? Maybe a simple answer could be switching out your favorite jacket to a lab coat. Teaming with Elle.com for a short video, the NPR podcast Invisibilia conducted a color test to see if changing your outfit improves mental performance.

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Experts and Links

  • Adam Galinsky

    Adam Galinsky is currently the chair of the Management Division and the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business at the Columbia Business School.

  • Hajo Adam

    Hajo Adam is an Assistant Professor of Management at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business. He studies the effects of cultural artifacts, such as clothing, on task performance.

    Interesting aside: after his and Galinsky's study on white coats was published, he was contacted by a woman who wanted to testify against her town's decision to have police officers wear military uniforms because she worried it might make them act more aggressively and violently. Though he hasn't studied this, he told us that because military fatigues have such a clear and strong symbolic association, it could indeed affect behavior, and make officers more likely to act as though they are "at war," he continued, "I think if we can get data on this, this would be an interesting thing to study."