You Are Only as Smart as What You Wear

Share Article confirms recent study that shows people are more intelligent when wearing a lab coat.

Wearing a lab coat can increase performance on difficult tasks.

People do feel smarter when they wear a lab coat. And when you feel smarter, you are smarter.

A recent study performed by researchers at Northwestern University found that people who wore white lab coats, that were identified as a “medical doctor’s jacket,” performed better on concentration tests. Conversely, when research subjects were told the lab coat was an “artist smock” their scores were 50% lower.

“This study confirms what those of us who have been in this industry for years, have been telling our customers,” said Lee Blum, president and Chief Executive Officer of “People do feel smarter when they wear a lab coat. And when you feel smarter, you are smarter.”

Author David McRaney has distributed a short video that explains the study in layman’s terms. It can be found at:

McRaney is the author of “You Are Now Less Dumb,” in which he devotes a chapter to the research done at Northwestern.

“Research has long suggested that clothes aren’t completely inanimate or inert, at least not inside the brains of humans,” said McRaney. “Looking at garments sets in motion a cascade of associations that can and do affect your perceptions and behaviors,”

McRaney suggests everything that is seen, heard, smelled, and touched has a symbolic power. Something as simple as a white lab coat can evoke memories and ideas, which will ultimately affect reaction & performance.

The findings from Northwestern University researchers Adam D. Galinsky and Hajo Adam, are gleaned from three separate tests that required participants to perform Stroop Test tasks or identify photo irregularities. Those who wore doctor’s lab coats performed twice as well and made half as many mistakes as those who wore their regular street clothes or white lab coats that were identified as artist’s smocks.

They, along with McRaney, have concluded that a human's brain is a semantic network of thoughts and memories. An image, word, idea, or thought can trigger another memory. When primed by a stimulus (in this case a white doctor’s lab coat), future responses and performances will be influenced. Having the participants slip on a lab coat pinged their semantic network and flooded their brain with a web of associations related to doctors; smart, focused, confident and thorough. The wiring of a memory does not allow objects to remain indifferent. Thus donning symbolic clothing will influence the way people act and the way people perceive situations.

“In short,” said Blum (with tongue in cheek),“this study should make lab coat sales skyrocket!”

Based in Newington, CT, is an online retailer of quality lab coats, doctor’s jackets, scrubs, and medical uniforms. The site offers a range of styles and designs for hospitals, physician offices, and medical facilities. also supplies protective lab coats for biological, chemical, food processing and science lab uses of all kinds.

Labwear thanks David McRaney for his permission to use his video about the lab coat effect. His new book "You Are Now Less Dumb" is available here:

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Source: Adam, Hajo, and Adam D. Galinsky. “Enclothed Cognition.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48, no. 4 (2012): 918– 25.

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