Science Says Your Swimsuit Design Matters

Enclothed Cognition

Scientists say some surprising things. They say coffee is great for your swimming; they say winter swimming can treat seasonal depression; and they say your "finger spread" can determine whether or not you win a race. Well, scientists are now saying something else that's very interesting - and once again it's relevant for swimmers!

To learn this secret swimming tip, you'll first need to understand a recently discovered psychological phenomenon called enclothed cognition. Enclothed cognition sounds complicated, but it simply refers to the effect that attire has on the wearer's performance. 

For example, researchers at the Kellogg School of Management demonstrated this theory with the example of lab coats. Participants in the experiment were either given a lab coat or not given anything special to wear. Then they were asked to participate in activities requiring attention. The participants who wore lab coats performed significantly better on the tests than those who did not, implying that the professional feel of the lab coat enhanced their cognitive abilities.

Fascinating "psychological hacks" from clothing have been shown in other situations as well. For instance, wearing formal attire for negotiations led to increased testosterone and more profitable outcomes for wearers. In another example, women who were expecting to talk to attractive men were more likely to wear red, and men who saw women in red were more likely to find them attractive! 

On a less positive note, women who were told that they were given counterfeit designer sunglasses were more likely to cheat in experiments, and they were more likely to view other women with suspicion!

So, this is interesting and all, but you're probably still waiting to see how you can use unclothed cognition for your advantage in swimming. It turns out that simple color-related psychology can have a significant effect on athletes and teams. 

Researchers have found that teams that wear black uniforms are thought to be more malevolent than teams that wear non-black uniforms. In fact, football teams with black uniforms were penalized more than teams with non-black uniforms.

There are two interested elements to this finding: For one, it is important to recognize the "intimidation factor" of wearing black. Wearing black swimsuits will likely increase scrutiny from officials, but it will also intimidate your competition.

The second finding, which is perhaps more surprising, is that wearing black doesn't just look intimidating; it fundamentally changes your behavior. Athletes who wore black gear acted more aggressively!

Don't want to wear black swimsuits? Even though black is associated with aggression, athletes and teams that wear outfits featuring red appear to win the most. Referees and fans favor athletes whose uniforms include red, and the color can even "impair performance" of competitors!

So, next time your swim team choses its suits, you might want to think hard about the psychological effects of your swimsuit. Custom swimsuits in a strategic color can bring out the best in you and your swim team (and the worst in your competition)!

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