Job Interview? Don’t forget your superhero costume!

We all look for ways to boost our confidence before a job interview and improve our chances of success. We’re told to dress professionally, “suited and booted”, but according to one psychology researcher we should perhaps try dressing a bit more like Superman than Clark Kent.

In her book Mind What You Wear, Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire, claims that clothing can have an effect on a person’s mental processes and perceptions.

Psychology graduates were put through a number of experiments in which some wore Businessman pulling his t-shirt open in white backgroundSuperman t-shirts, others wore plain blue t-shirts and others, the control group, remained in their normal clothing. The experiments showed that those wearing the superman t-shirt felt superior to others in a number of ways and that it seems clothing can indeed make people feel “more or less attractive, confident, powerful or clever”.

Pine’s research shared that when wearing the Superman t-shirt the students rated themselves as more likeable and superior to other students” and “when asked to estimate how much they could physically lift, those in a superman t-shirt thought they were stronger than students in a plain t-shirt or in their own clothing”.

Additional experiments found that other clothing could also have positive or negative effects on individuals. Wearing a white lab coat was found to improve a person’s mental agility and those wearing a sweater whilst completing a maths test performed better than those asked to wear a swimsuit during the same test. Interestingly, Pine also shared that people showed more mental agility when wearing a white coat they believe is a doctor’s, but not if they are told it’s a painter’s coat.

Now, before you start turning up to interviews dressed as Superman, Wonder Woman or your own preferred choice of superhero, you may want to have a look at some of the other suggestions from Pine’s guide to “happy clothes” which might be slightly easier to carry off:

  1. People who dress like the boss are more likely to be appointed and get promoted quicker.
  2. A man in a tailor-made suit is thought to be more confident and more trustworthy than a man in an off-the-peg suit.
  3. Choosing the right clothes can make a person less anxious and less depressed.
  4. Boost your energy by wearing colours found in nature — sky blue, leaf green or sunshine yellow
  5. Wear natural fibres such as linen, cotton, silk and wool that nurture us more than man-made fabrics because they exploit our affinity with nature.

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