Dressing Up Could Make You Smarter, Study Says

by Emily Kirkpatrick

Have you ever put on your favorite interview outfit and immediately felt smarter and more confident? Well, according to new research, there's a very real reason for that: wearing your finest formal wear might actually make you more intelligent. That sounds like as good a reason as any to get dressed up!

The study took a look at how dress clothes influence the wearer's thoughts, specifically their ability to create concrete or abstract thoughts. Concrete thoughts are typically simple and direct, such as, "It's cold today," while abstract thoughts are a little more complex and sophisticated, such as, "What atmospheric conditions cause cold weather?" To determine the types of thoughts their college-aged participants were engaging in, half the subjects were asked to wear clothing they would wear to a job interview while the other was asked to come in clothing they would wear to class. They were then asked to choose their preferred answer to a series of questions, such as whether they believed voting was best defined as "influencing the election" or "marking the ballot," with the former obviously signifying more abstract reasoning.

The results suggested that there is in fact a link between putting on some fancier duds and thinking a little more profoundly about the world around you. Makes sense considering we already know clothing can completely change our self-confidence and the way we view ourselves. Deepened thought seems like a natural extension of that change in outlook, with the power we feel influencing our mental capacities.

Turns out that old saying, the clothes make the (wo)man, might have way more truth to it than you ever imagined.