Do Your Outfits Affect Your Grades?


7When I wake up in the morning before class or before I head to an exam, I usually do not think twice before I throw on a pair of sweat pants and sweat shirt. But could what I wear affect how I perform in the classroom? Does dressing more comfortable affect how I preform, or could it be wearing an outfit that is nicer can do so?

In a unique study I came across the scientists conducted an experiment putting this to the test through lab coats. Within in this single study two different experiments were conducted. First, fifty-eight undergraduate students (19 male, 41 female) were randomly assigned to two groups, one group wore a lab coat and one that wore there own clothing. To create blindness, the subjects wearing lab coats were told all prior subjects wore them as well. Both groups then completed a test that measured the time it took to indicate whether the letters on the screen or red or blue and their accuracy in doing so. The time did not vary between the two groups, but the group that wore lab coats had nearly half the amount of errors as the other group.


The second test divided seventy-four new undergraduate students into two groups. This time both groups were given lab coats. One group was told that the coat they were given was a doctor’s coat and the other group was told the lab coat was a painter’s coat. The people were then surveyed on what they thought of the coat. By doing so, they were able to make a third group based off the people who thought it was a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat. In this test each subject was shown two sets of two pictures. When each set was shown, two of the same pictures were shown on the screen, but each had four minor differences, and they were all instructed to write down the differences they found as quickly as possible. Then, it was measured the time it took and number of differences that were found. The results showed on average, those wearing “a doctor’s coat” found more differences than those who wore the “painter’s coat” and those who saw it as a lab coat not a painter’s coat. The time it took the three groups was relatively similar. This study can lead one to conclude that by wearing the doctor’s coat, one may become more attentive than if they were wearing a regular lab coat or a painter’s coat.


Multiple studies have shown that a person who is wearing formal attire will have an increased “abstract cognitive processing.” ttp:// These studies show that in a way, formal clothes make us feel powerful, giving a person an increased level of confidence they did not have before. Based off the two studies I have concluded to fail to reject the hypothesis that the clothing you wearing can affect how a student performs in the classroom. The studies show that some clothing more than others can make a student more likely to pay closer attention to detail.

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6 thoughts on “Do Your Outfits Affect Your Grades?

  1. Rebecca Danielle Schneider

    I found your blog post to be extremely thought provoking. I am too a sweatpants wearing test taker, and will probably always be. I agree that these studies were definitely not strong enough to prove their hypothesis. Using a coat is not a sufficient or realistic way to test this either, even though I understand that they were trying to use “formal apparel.” The study that I would propose to find better results is to take a group of students in a class and have half of them wear jeans and the other half wear sweatpants/sweatshirt. After the students take their test, compare the scores of the jean people vs. the sweats people and see if there are any significant differences. This topic has led me to wonder if students who have to wear school uniforms have an increased chance of performing well on tests since they are dressed formally. I am still caught in the middle of what to believe, so here you can read about both sides of the argument.

  2. Aidan Quinn Graham

    This was one of the more interesting topics, in my opinion. It has long been a feeling of mine that, as you dress nicer, you are more confident, and therefore preform better. However, that has only ever been a feeling. You post brought up some really interesting statistic and ideas.

    It may be unrealistic for this class, but I would be really interested in reading the results of an experiment where one would survey grades of students in relation to atire here at penn state. I think it would be fascinating! Great job!

  3. Rory McGowan

    I think it’s interesting that there is a tangible cognitive impact upon the actions/confidence of an individual in regards to the clothes that they wear. I wonder if this has always been the case? Fashion norms have changed drastically over time, perhaps this phenomenon has stayed consisted? Or is it something about a lab coat that makes an individual react in such a manner?

  4. Scott L Katz

    I agree with this blog 100%. I am a firm believer of the saying “Look good, Play good” and i think that carries over to everything in life not just sports. I was not surprised to see that the doctors lab coat or the formal attire had increased abstract cognitive processing. I never thought of this scientifically but after reading this post it just helped reinforce everything i believed in.

  5. Hung Chieh Wang

    Very interesting topic, I always wear casual clothes in clothes. I think when you wear the professional clothes, you feel more connected to the subject, and you have more confident in yourself. I think this is a really good idea because it can actually get attention from your professors, too. They might think you already knew some things and willing to discuss further with you. Here is a source I found about how clothing can affect your job: How Clothes Affect Jobs. So actually, what you wear can really affect how people think about you. We should put more time on clothing, I think this will benefits us a lot!

  6. Katie Ann Farnan

    This was a really interesting read! I often just wear sweats to class especially because I rarely wore them in high school. It would make sense though that formal attire makes you feel smarter and more put together, therefore making you perform better on different activities. I guess I should start putting more thought into how I look now. Great post!

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