Why wearing a tight dress can affect your IQ test
They are the go-to outfit for many women when they want to feel sexy and self-confident.
But could that favourite little black dress also be damaging to female brain function?
Research has revealed that women perform much worse on tests which measure reaction times and decision-making when they wear something tight and revealing, rather than something loose and comfortable.
Researchers from the University of Toronto found women were slower to respond to challenges and made poorer decisions. Scientists think that when women dress in more revealing outfits they may have a heightened body awareness so they become more conscious of how their clothing affects their appearance.
This can even happen to those content with their figure.
Focusing on appearance then "diverts cognitive resources" away from the task in hand which damages their performance.
Clothing choice has long been known to affect both sexes. In one experiment, women wearing a white coat, normally worn by doctors or scientists, performed better on brain function tests than those in normal attire.
And men who dress smartly are more likely to make better business decisions than those in casual wear, found a 2014 study by Yale University.
This phenomenon is known as enclothed cognition.
The Toronto team wanted to see how tight and revealing outfits impacted women’s mental agility.
They recruited 80 women aged 18 to 35 and gave them a task designed to assess reaction times and decision-making.
This involved rapidly clicking on certain images as they popped up on a screen while avoiding others.
Half the women wore a clingy Spandex gym crop top and tight shorts. The rest wore a baggy T-shirt and long, large shorts – similar to those usually worn by basketball players.
The results, published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, revealed that the women wearing skimpy, tight clothing scored the lowest on the tests. Those in the baggy outfits were less preoccupied with their appearance and, in turn, they scored better marks.
In a report on the findings, researchers concluded that dressing skimpily may make women more self-conscious and in turn reduce their ability to focus.
They said: ‘There is evidence that women who are more aware of their bodies perform worse on cognitive tasks than those who are less aware. The type of clothing worn – revealing versus concealing – can affect the performance of women on cognitive tasks.
"And this difference may arise because changes in body awareness divert cognitive resources from the task.
"This research highlights the importance of considering the impact of clothing on performance in many different contexts."Daily Mail