May 6, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Does a uniform change the wearer’s personality?

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Colin Wilsonweb2From “When Police Wear Military Uniforms, It Changes Their Psychology”

“Over the past decade, many police forces have taken to wearing paramilitary uniforms on the job. Over at The New Yorker, psychologist Maria Konnikova describes how this change affects citizens and police alike.

“Konnikova begins by exploring studies that show people have a strong psychological response when police change their uniforms, even slightly. This reaction is heightened when police dress in military gear, which people already associate with a higher level of aggression and menace than a police uniform. Interestingly, Konnikova notes, police uniforms were originally created in the mid-19th century to look as unlike military uniforms as possible. The idea was to distinguish the “blue” of the police from the “red” of the military.

“But now that distinction is breaking down. And it’s affecting how the police see themselves.”

From “Mind Games: Sometimes wearing a white coat isn’t just a white coat”

‘“I love the idea of trying to figure out why, when we put on certain clothes, we might more readily take on a role and how that might affect our basic abilities,” said Joshua I. Davis, an assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College and expert on embodied cognition who was not involved with the study. This study does not fully explain how this comes about, he said, but it does suggest that it will be worth exploring various ideas.

“There is a huge body of work on embodied cognition, Dr. Galinsky said. The experience of washing your hands is associated with moral purity and ethical judgments. People rate others personally warmer if they hold a hot drink in their hand, and colder if they hold an iced drink. If you carry a heavy clipboard, you will feel more important.

“It has long been known that “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves,” Dr. Galinsky said. Other experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually.

“But the deeper question, the researchers said, is whether the clothing you wear affects your psychological processes. Does your outfit alter how you approach and interact with the world? So Dr. Galinsky and his colleague Hajo Adam conducted three experiments in which the clothes did not vary but their symbolic meaning was manipulated.

“So scientists report after studying a phenomenon they call enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on cognitive processes.”

What might you be asking yourselves is where (no pun intended) I am going with this?

I am referring to the very disturbing Compass Editorial “Legislative Assembly: Laying out the ‘unwelcome’ mat” that was published on March 16th.

I am not suggesting I am dissatisfied with the Editorial Content as written but I am very disturbed at what the Editorial stated.

It said one of their reporters – a junior – “a gifted graduate of Clifton Hunter High School and UCCI” was dispatched last Monday “to the Legislative Assembly to cover the mock session of Youth Parliament that is held each year on Commonwealth Day.”

“Now a professional reporter, Ms. Chollette arrived at the Legislative Assembly. On her way from the entrance up to the gallery, she was waved down by Sergeant-at-Arms J. Kim Evans, a former police officer whose physical prodigiousness renders him an intimidating figure, even when he’s not trying to intimidate.

“Mr. Evans demanded to know what had brought our young Caymanian reporter to the Legislative Assembly. She informed him that she works for the Compass. He insisted on seeing her media pass. She didn’t have one, she said; this was her first time here as a reporter.

“Never mind that this was not an actual sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Never mind that Ms. Chollette was trying to inform the community about positive things her fellow young Caymanians were doing. Never mind that this was an event that the government invited the public to attend; or that it was being broadcast on television; or that the only reason she was being questioned was that she happened to be armed with a ballpoint pen.

“No, Mr. Evans said, he will not allow her to view the Youth Parliament from the gallery.”

To read the whole Editorial go to:

What on earth was Mr. Evans trying to prove and what justification did he have for this decision?

I have met the same problem with police officers and even private security officers. Outside their uniforms they are pleasant “normal” people but that changes as soon as they put on their uniform.

Some (thankfully not all) are sternly polite and overbearing when you have to deal with them. And I can only wonder how Ms. Collette must have felt when she was trying to do her job on her VERY FIRST assignment. I hope this very unpleasant first experience will not deter her in her desire to become a journalist.

Mr Evans, on learning, this reporter was on her very first assignment, and being so young, should have gone the extra mile in helping her. I could say a lot more but my anger at this incident might cloud my judgement in my use of words!

Mr. Evans owes this young reporter a huge apology and I hope the Compass press this whole affair to its fullest.

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