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Throughout history people have used clothing to portray their social status. Whether we like it or not, we are all affected by the information that our outfits communicate to the world.
A recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology took this idea to a whole new level when it revealed that the clothes we wear affect our very hormones.
To conduct their study, researchers gathered 128 men between 18 and 32 years old, who were of diverse socio-economic backgrounds and divided them into two groups – “targets” and “neutral perceivers.” The targets were then dressed in high-status and low-status clothing. The high-status targets wore business suites, while the low-status targets were given sweat pants, sandals and plain T-shirts.
The targets then were asked to engage in a business negotiation with a neutral perceiver, in which they played the role of a chief financial officer of a large company and had to negotiate the most favorable deal. Scientists then compared the results produced by the low- and high-status targets, and found significant differences, not only in their behavior, but also in their testosterone levels before and after the experiment.
Participants dressed in high-status clothing exhibited more confidence and achieved higher profits with their negotiated deals than those who were dressed in low-status attire. Moreover, the low-status participants experienced a 20 percent drop in their testosterone levels compared to the measurements taken before the experiment.
This research demonstrates how sensitive our endocrine system is to various outside influences. If mere clothing can reduce testosterone production by 20 percent, it is easy to imagine how damaging a bad diet, stress and other factors can be to our hormonal health. This is why it is very important to be careful with the choices we make, and keep a close watch on our daily routines.
And if dressing well can help alleviate at least some of those negative influences, well, it might just be time to buy yourself a new suit.