A recent studies suggest that is the case. That dressing up for work for example in a suit or blazer could do wonders for an employee’s productivity, whether they are going into a negotiation, making a sales call or even participating in a videoconference. Let me tell you about the results of these studies as these may make you rethink your current wardrobe.
Your clothing choices should be motivated not just by the effect it has on others but also by the effect it has on your own behaviour and psychology.
Professor Kraus from the Yale School of Management, co-wrote a study in 2014 which demonstrated that clothes with high social status can increase dominance and job performance in “high-stakes” competitive tasks.
This study took 128 men aged between 18 to 32 with diverse backgrounds and income levels and put them through role-playing exercises. They were paired up to take part in mock negotiations over the sale of a hypothetical biotech factory— to see whether wearing specific kinds of clothing had an effect on the outcomes of the negotiations.
The “buyer” in each case came from one of three groups. One group wore business suits and dress shoes. One group wore sweatpants, white T-shirts and thongs. A third group, referred to as “neutrals,” kept wearing the clothing they arrived in. A neutral also always played the role of “seller” in each negotiation, regardless of their actual status.
The negotiators were each given a fair-market value for the hypothetical factory, along with other information that would influence their decisions about opening bids and asking prices. In the end, the suits proved much less willing to concede ground during the negotiations, moving off their initial offer by an average of only $830,000, compared with $2.8 million for those in sweatpants and $1.58 million for the neutrals.
What these results show is that in competitive, winner-take-all situations, wearing more formal attire can send others a signal about you being successful and confident in whatever you’re doing. Those dressed less formally on the other side of the table tend to back down more easily. Interestingly, the ones in formal attire become aware of the respect they are receiving and become more forceful as well.