Have you ever noticed that your campus feels different during finals? A weird combination of anticipation, anxiety, and exhaustion.
Maybe you've noticed people who've dressed their best all semester suddenly wearing pajamas and subsisting on candy and energy drinks. Perhaps you've seen stacks of fast food strewn about next to napping students face down in their textbooks. Both common sights during finals, but terrible strategies for peak performance during finals.
In fact, several studies have linked the way we dress to our sense of confidence, focus, and creative thinking. All key factors in academic performance. A 2015 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that when dressed formally students demonstrated more creative and abstract thinking than those who dressed informally.
Other studies have found similar results, a 2002 study found that formally dressed people perceived themselves as accurate while informally dressed folks perceived themselves as easy going and tolerant. A 2012 study, Enclothed Cognition, found that when people were told they were wearing a lab coat that belonged to a doctor they became more attentive than those who were told they were wearing a white coat that belonged to a painter.
Historically academic settings have required uniforms to help limit distractions. Although most American schools have eliminated this tradition to foster self expression, Oxford University still requires its students to wear traditional academic dress when they sit for exams.
I’m not suggesting your wear a graduation gown, your prom dress, a full suit, or a lab coat to your final exams, but it does seem like there are numerous studies that correlate performance to how you dress.
How you feel influences your mindset, which absolutely impacts your performance. If you want to cultivate a positive, confident, focused feeling during an exam honor yourself by wearing clothes that make you feel good about yourself.
Taking the time to dress professionally and care for yourself can reinforce a mindset that enhances performance and nurtures confidence. While on the other hand, slapping together some comfy clothes minutes before your exam might lead you to feeling disheveled and unfocused. Honor yourself and your performance by taking the time to dress for success.