A dress code and its effects, 1957
At Laura Wood’s site, a reader tells the story of a movie theater in upstate New York in 1957 which had been beset by rowdy, sloppily dressed youngsters. In a bid to fix the problem, the theater, after two weeks of advance announcements, instituted a dress code. The result was not only that the young people began to dress better, but that, once their dress improved, their rowdyism disappeared.
Clothes make the man. The way we dress affects the way we feel about ourselves, and thus the way we conduct ourselves. People dressed like shapeless sacks feel like shapeless sacks, and so behave like shapeless sacks. People dressed neatly and attractively feel more orderly and harmonious inside, and as a result their external behavior becomes more orderly and harmonious. How much of the chaotic personal behavior and hideous cultural disorder of today’s society is a function of the chaotic and hideous way people dress?
Ironically, I’ve been thinking about exactly this since last week. Being retired law enforcement, I was asked to accompany my cousin to his District Court hearing over a charge of aggravated harassment—that’s another story though. I’m well acquainted with the ins and outs of the court system and agreed to be there with him. Dug out my white shirt / tie / best suit for the occasion.April 28
Kilroy M. writes:
Reading the discussion about whether the attire worn by a person has an effect on his behaviour, Professor Philip Zimbardo’s Stamford Prison Experiment comes to mind (reviewed here). The experiment involved 24 college students who were placed randomly into two groups and ordered to role play. The two groups were prison guards and prisoners. As it happens, the experiment had to be terminated before completion due to the torment that the prisoners were experiencing at the hands of their wardens. As psychologist Leandro Herrero puts it: “Fiction became reality, and reality was hard. It was so hard that the experiment had to be stopped after a couple of days—one week before it was due to finish because somebody was going to be killed and others seriously wounded.” A study published in Social, Psychological and Personality Science concerned the colour of uniforms and the corresponding behaviour of hockey players. Webster, Urland and Correll found that “these quasi-experimental findings suggest that black jerseys are associated with more aggression and that white jerseys are associated with less.” So yes, there does seem to be a connection between attire and behaviour. Of course, as traditionalists we have known this, which is the reason for “dress codes” and prejudicial attitudes that “judge a book by its cover.” Moderns, on the other hand, need to have the obvious proved through rational scientific process.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 27, 2012 06:32 PM | Send