Impact Of Clothes: How They Alter Your Conduct

May 5, 2015

by By Dan Solin

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Here’s a jarring thought: based on overwhelming research, if you had to choose between spending time on either the first impression you’d make or the substance of the information you’d convey, your time would be better spent on the former.

I have never met an advisor who truly understood the extensive data on first impressions. That’s unfortunate because the failure to recognize the impact of a first impression means converting fewer prospects into clients.

The unexpected impact of clothes

There is one aspect of making a positive first impression over which you have total control – what you wear.

If you believe what you wear impacts only those in your presence, you are mistaken. A fascinating study examined how clothes affect the mindset of the person in them. The study was done by Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky, cognitive psychologists at Northwestern University.

The researchers conducted three experiments. In the first, they divided participants into two groups. One group was given white lab coats to wear, but was not told anything else about them. The other group remained in street clothes.

Both groups were given an identical test measuring their ability to identify incongruities. The group wearing the white lab coats performed markedly better than the group wearing street clothes.

In the second experiment, the researchers separated participants into three groups. Two of the groups were given identical white lab coats. One of the two groups was told these were “doctors’ coats.” The other group was told they were coats worn by artists. The third group remained in street clothes, but were told to look briefly at the “doctors’ coats” displayed on a table. All three groups were given an identical test that asked them to identify differences in similar pictures.

Once again, the group wearing the “doctors’ coats” performed much better than the other two groups.

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