Do Your Clothes Affect The Way You Ride?

You know how you feel like a million bucks when you put on your Sunday best? According to new research, you not only feel better but you actually perform better when you wear certain clothes. 

Psychologists have now coined this effect enclothed cognition

In a study that was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, participants were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 wore their normal clothes while Group 2 were told to put on a doctors lab coat. The group wearing the doctor's lab coat made 50% fewer mistakes in a Stroop test than the participants wearing their normal clothes. In a second variation, Group 1 was told to put on the white coat but was told it was a painters cloak. Group 2 was also told to wear the coat but were told it was a doctors coat. The group which believed they were wearing a doctors coat performed significantly better than the other group.

A couple of interesting conclusions can be drawn from this study. What we wear most definitely affects how we feel, but also affects how we perform, as long as there is symbolic meaning attached to the clothing (ie. doctors coat, business suit, scrubs, sweatpants, etc..). In another variation of the above study the participants were told about the doctor's lab coat, but instead of wearing the coat they slung it over the back of their chairs. Having the lab coat in close proximity did not enhance the participant's ability to perform brain games. In order to have a competitive edge, the lab coat had to be worn.

Not surprisingly, this is not the only study that has been done on the subject. I came across a good number of similar studies that show dress affects performance in all aspects of our highly competitive world, from the military to high-performance sport.  

Aren't humans fascinating!?! These types of studies always intrigue me as I tend to ponder how they might affect my life and my performance, especially as a rider/trainer. I've started to wonder if I would perform better if I dressed better? If I looked like today's top trainers would it help me ride like them? If my horses wear tack that looks similar to what horses are wearing at the top of the sport, would it give me a competitive edge? According to the research, the answer is yes! 

Food for thought!

As always, happy riding! 


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