Monday, 12 March 2012

Enclothed cognition

The effects of the environment on test-takers appear to be manifold.

I have written before about the difference the colour red can make to a learner's levels of accuracy.

It now appears that not only is colour important to levels of success, along with room size, but also the type of clothing a test-taker wears.

Welcome to the world of  'enclothed cognition' as described by Hajo Adam and Adam D Galinsky in a recent paper of the same name.
They gave a series of subjects the Stroop test, which is where people have to identify the colour of a word they are shown, often when the word itself is an adjective denoting another colour, such as 'blue' written in red ink.

What Adam and Galinsky found is that subjects were much less prone to error when they were given a white coat identified as a doctor's or laboratory coat to wear.

They tried the same test with jackets identified as artists' jackets but found that the results remained unchanged from the standard level.

They infer from this that people react more attentively when they are given clothes which symbolize care and diligence.

This raises many interesting questions.

For our purposes, it is to be wondered whether wearing lab coats would increase accuracy levels when teaching ESP to doctors, or suits when teaching BE.

Certainly it suggests that anyone taking a test or exam should avoid dressing casually, or like an artist.

Perhaps it may even be advisable for learners to don English national costume if that helps them think in a more English way.

(Image: Beehive)

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