The Truth Dresses Down

I have found that one of the most effective [research] methods is to visit consumers in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. I’ve learned that it offers a glimpse of a quite different people than I would see if I’d had them come into an interview room and viewed their behavior from a more formal setting.

The conclusion of market researcher and author of Brandwashed, Martin Lindstrom, after turning up one hour too early to interview a woman and finding her bleery-eyed, bath-robed, and bed-haired.

Realizing there was no way back, the woman invited Lindstrom in, and proceeded with the interview. But…

As we settled into her living room to chat, I noticed a dramatic difference between this and my previous interviews. She was startlingly honest from the beginning. There was no beating around the bush, no dressing up the truth. Of course, there were no shoes or makeup either. Whatever she said came across as totally honest and completely authentic.

You are what you wear
As Lindstrom compared this experience with other interviews he concluded that the honesty of the interview was linked to the honesty of the “make-up” and the clothes. And, yes, psychologists have a name for this: it’s called “enclothed cognition,” and it refers to the influence clothes have on the psychological processes of the wearer.

In some ways, this is not rocket science. Give someone a clipboard and they’re suddenly Einstein; make a man a Security Guard and he becomes the Gestapo; put your wife in a new dress and she’s immediately a super model (OK, I’m definitely going to get into trouble for that one). But still, the science of it is fascinating. Dr. Adam D. Galinsky led a study into the effects of clothing on cognitive processes:

He randomly assigned 74 students with one of three tasks–wearing a doctor’s coat, wearing a painter’s coat, or simply looking at a doctor’s coat. They were subsequently tested for the amount of attention they paid to the task. They were shown two very similar images on the same screen, and they were asked to quickly jot down four minor differences. Those wearing the doctor’s coat (incidentally exactly the same as the painter’s coat) found more differences indicating heightened attention.

Two Takeaways
Fairly sure I’m not going to follow Lindstrom’s new habit of showing up one hour early for pastoral visits! But it should make us re-think how we dress and the impact it makes both on the role we assume and the role others take on in response.

It should also cause a major re-think about the increasing move away from home visitation to pastors’ and counselors’ offices. It’s certainly more time-efficient for the pastor, but probably less effective, at least if our objective is transparency, honesty, and authenticity.

You can read Martin Lindstrom’s article here.

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You’re not racist are you? Sometimes

“You’re not racist, are you?”

“Of course not.”

“Nor sexist?”


“Ageist? Sizeist? Nationalist?”

“No, nein, non!”

Well, if you’re a Republican, you probably are all of these things.

Also true if you’re a Democrat.

Want some research to back that up? Here you go (more detail here).

Study 1: People who spent time outside during winter overestimated the extent to which other people were bothered by cold

Study 2: People who ate salty snacks without water thought other people were overly bothered by thirst

But in both studies this effect evaporated when participants believed that the other people under consideration held opposing political views from their own.

In other words, Republicans don’t mind if Democrats freeze to death, and Democrats don’t care if Republicans die of thirst.

OK, that’s a slight over-statement but the point is that our sympathy, our ability to imagine and feel what others are feeling, wants to draw a line at the red/blue border.

As the researchers put it: “We overestimate the extent to which others feel what we’re feeling, unless they’re on another team.” We’re happy to walk in other people’s shoes, as long as they’re wearing the same colors.

And if this sympathy-limitation is true of politics, how much more of gender, age, race, etc. Dissimilarity and difference tends to turn our hearts off. As researchers concluded: “These consequences suggest a surprising limitation in people’s capacity to empathize with others with whom they disagree or differ from.”

So, should we all become Independents?

No, the answer is more and more of the Gospel of Christ worked deeper and deeper into our hearts.

Because who loved the disagreeable, the dissimilar, and the different more than He did?

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