In a new study, researchers found that people wearing lab coats were better at paying attention and performing tasks accurately than those not wearing the white jackets associated with medical professionals and scientists.
Researchers at Northwestern University asked study subjects to don a white lab coat like the kind your doctor probably wears, and that we associate with hard-at-work scientists. Then they measured their ability to focus by having them perform Stroop test tasks, such as naming the color (green, for example) of a word (red, for example) spelled out on a computer screen. Those wearing lab coats got the color right twice as often as those who didn't wear one. Turns out you should dress for the brain you want, not the one you have.
Interestingly, they didn't see the same effect when they told the volunteers that the jacket was a visual artist's coat—only when they associated the coat with a medical professional or scientist.
"There seems to be something special about the physical experience of wearing a piece of clothing," write Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky in their study.