Dress For The Part

I have never been one to over dress for school. I find it much better to feel comfortable in a learning environment. However, I always found myself paying better attention in class if I dressed to impress. I have no clue what actually made me feel better about the way I looked reflecting upon my cognitive abilities, however it did lead me to wonder, does dressing to fit the part of a certain test help  students learn better? For example, dressing up like a mathematician to perform better on a math test.  If I actually did that would I have received a better grade? It sounds like nonsense, but I am not the only one that has felt this way or pondered these questions.

An observational study done at Northwestern University revealed that students that they put in doctor lab coats performed better learning conflicting flashcards than students placed in lab coats that were told their lab coats were from artists. However this study did not state confounding variables like the IQ of the students, gender, or year of schooling. These confounders could have potentially conflicted the outcome of the study overall. If this study were too be done more properly they should have come up with a null and alternative hypothesis as well as potential confounders and then compared results at the end based on a p-value.

The null hypothesis would be: Lab coats do not help learning ability

The alternative hypothesis would be: Lab coats help learning ability.

After the hypotheses are formed, the students need to be a random sample divided evenly to eliminate confounders in the study. This study then needs to have a control group that does not use a lab coat at all to see if the lab coats indeed are effecting the ability to learn. After the experiment is set up all that would be left to do would be for science to reveal the answers itself.

Other interesting questions that this study poses are:

  1. Do students feel more confident on a test if they act like a professional of that study?
  2. What happens when the students take of the lab coats? Do they learn less proficiently or do they actually remember the information?
  3. Can this study be concluded for all academic fields or just science?

As I researched more I found similar studies done like the Northeastern University one, including one done at California State University. However, this study concluded that the facts that they have gained from these types of studies have merely told them anecdotes instead of definite conclusions.

Although this studies done in Northwestern University and California State University are not for sure proving that dressing the part will improve test scores, I think it is reasonable that people dress differently on testing days to make themselves more confident during the test. The mind is a powerful thing so we should push it beyond limits. It can be nice to boost up confidence by dressing better or dressing professional in order to help succeed on a test. Even if there is not definite evidence to prove this actually helps, getting a better grade is worth the risk.








9 thoughts on “Dress For The Part

  1. Randall Stansbury

    I think that this is a really interesting point. In middle school my teacher used to have us “dress for success” on test days. He believed that getting dressed up would help us succeed. I always thought that this was annoying and kind of a hassle, but it is interesting to see that there may have been scientific evidence to back him up.

  2. Alexander Mark Schaefer

    I found this blog post very interesting, but correct to a point. I feel that it depends on the person. There may be some who are just as content wearing sweats to class and being happy with their appearance and others who enjoy dressing up. Personally for testing, I believe comfort is the most important thing. If I’m relaxed I can think straight, and I feel most relaxed when I am wearing my favorite pair of sweats and t-shirt. This topic seems very controversial but I really enjoyed reading your blog.

  3. Zihan Wang

    Hi, Hannah Margaret Mears. You did well in combining dress to emotional field. At the beginning, you refer your personal experience to tell us pay more attention on dressing can make you feel happy. Before I read your blog, I can’t make me convinced that dress related to emotion. People’s outlooks are not only for others, but also for themselves. You give us a survey to proof that better dressing can make people feel confident and it’s a good way to improve learning skills. You use too much class material in your blog such as null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis, and your hypotheses do impress me. You state analysis and fact in the article, and I gain myself too much from here. Great blog. There is video here for your blog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2NsODxM-HY

  4. Christopher Ronkainen

    This post contained a very interesting topic. My friends and I in high school would largely joke around with the saying, “You look good, you feel good, you play good,” a slight modification of Deion Sanders famous quote. This topic was very similar to the idea we’ve always believed. Similar to this idea is the belief that school uniforms are beneficial. In a recent study done by the University of Houston, they found that school uniforms can improve student’s grades, attendance and their behavior. This is something that could be beneficial to our schooling system as a whole, although there are many other arguments against it like self expression.

  5. Mairead Donnard

    This is a really interesting blog post and something that I find myself thinking of often. I personally feel my best when I am most comfortable. With this being said, it is logical to think that when you feel that you are dressed nicely, you act more confidently too. All in all, I think with a study like this, it is a personal opinion about whether or not dressing nicely improves scores or not. While I think that I will do better feeling more comfortable, another person will do better on the same test because they are dressed nicely that day.

  6. Jillian Nicole Beitter

    Great blog! I think this topic can be very hard to look at because as humans we all have different tastes. The definition of dressing “nice” can be very different from another person’s definition. I personally think that the way you dress doesn’t really have any influence over how well you do on a test. Yes, you will catch more people staring at you, but do their stares necessarily help you get a letter grade higher? I went to an all girls high school where we all wore the same thing. Even though we were all wearing the same exact thing, we all got different grades. There were some girls who were failing, while other girls were doing great. The grades continued to range, despite what we wore. I do indeed see where you are coming from though. I think that the mentality though when you walk into a test is what matters the most.

  7. Samantha Francesca Sichenze

    Great job Hannah! I enjoyed reading this blog. In the beginning of the school year I always used to dress up to go to class. I would wear jeans and a nice shirt, while always making sure my hair and makeup was done. Now, I wear sweatpants, a t-shirt, and my hair in a messy bun. However, I felt that since I was so uncomfortable in my apparel, it would make me focus more. Whereas when I wore comfy clothes, I was always distracted and dazing off. In the article, http://www.livestrong.com/article/248103-how-do-the-clothes-kids-wear-affect-how-they-learn/, it explains how clothes can affect a way a child learns. I now know for the future, whenever I want to focus and pay attention, I will wear my least comfortable outfit!

  8. Molly Samantha Arnay

    This blog raised a few questions in my mind. How much of this “dress better, perform better academically” is due to the placebo effect? I feel like the only mechanism for this finding could be the sense of confidence and sureness you feel when taking a test while dressed nicely. Also, I think there is a fine line in which dressing nicely can boost confidence or it can become distracting. Once it becomes distracting, dressing comfortably, maybe in sweats for a long test, becomes the better option. Due to the confounding variables, this is a hard idea to get concrete evidence on. Interesting topic!

  9. Jessica Heckler

    This is a really interesting topic for a blog post!! I loved reading about your opinion on this subject, but personally, I disagree. I have always been one to believe that I do the best on my tests while I was comfortable so I didn’t have to be worrying about my outfit or my hair while I was testing. The only thing I had to worry about was the test that was sitting in front of me. I am a firm believer in the sweatpants or leggings and a t-shirt outfit for test day with my hair pulled back in a pony tail so I have nothing to distract me. I have done this for every standardized test, midterm, and final I have ever had to take and I have always received good results.
    As for finding true results through an experiment, I feel like it would be extremely hard to carry out an experiment ruling out all confounding variables so we can draw the conclusion based on just the lab coat. It would almost make the most sense to test the same person taking two different tests of the same difficulty level, one while wearing a lab coat and one not wearing a lab coat because this would rule out having two groups of people and one group just being slightly smarter than the other group.

Leave a Reply