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‘On Wednesdays we wear pink’, one of my favourite lines in the high school teen movie -Mean Girls. That one liner epitomises girly-girls around the world. One thing that catapulted  that quote into pop culture is the association between the colour pink and  femininity (weaponized femininity in Regina George’s case but I digress). I’ve often wondered, why is it that pink is for girls, and blue is for boys? Studies have shown that colour can affect emotion; so, it begs the question what implications can ‘gendered’ colour codes have on the people  who wear them? As a mother myself to a twin boy and girl, I have questioned how I should be dressing my kids. I often ponder how my twins will grow up perceiving themselves due to the way I choose to dress them. The expanding gender-neutral/ unisex children’s clothing market only encourages me to question my choices further.

The idea that colours are gendered goes as far back as the 1930s. At the time, blue was being predominantly used in the designing soldiers’ uniforms, and therefore became more masculine inclined. What may come as a surprise to many is that prior to 1930 pink was initially for boys, as it was perceived as a ‘watered-down bold dramatic red’. A bolder, stronger colour symbolising ‘zeal’ and ‘courage’ in contrast to the then girly-blue; that was seen as more delicate and dainty; a symbolism of ‘faith’ and ‘consistency’.

Numerous studies have shown a universal preference for the colour blue. However, research has found that the sexes differ in their responsiveness to specific dimensions of colour. Evolutionary psychology would argue that women’s preference for pink/red stems from their role in resource collection during the hunter-gatherer period where these warm colours would be indicative of ripe fruits and berries.

In terms of development, children are able to identify colours from the age of 18 months. Between 3-4 years old, they are able to name different colours. Coincidentally, during this period of development they also become conscious of their assigned gender. Because of their limitations in communication, children often use colour as a form of expression. The clothes you dress your child in not only affects how the world receives them; but also how they perceive themselves. So, as a parent  you can either dress them to aid in their conformity to gender norms through gendered colour coding; or assist them to express their individuality through the use of colour. No pressure there then!

My beautiful twins Kieran and Khyra
Kids' Choice Awards 2017: Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey Have Adorable Twinning Moment With Their Kids

A study, conducted by a baby subscription box service ‘Box Upon a Time’, concluded that 47% of parents liked dressing their boys in pink clothing, whilst 82 per cent liked to put their girls in blue. This is becoming a growing trend, that is being led by the child stars like North West and Shiloh Jodie-Pitt, who rock the androgynous style like the trendsetters that they are. ‘I’m not big on loud or over the top colours.’ Kim Kardashian adds that she loves it when North wears gender-neutral colours. It appears that  some parents are gradually moving away from the gendered coloured way of dressing, and instead establishing their own personal style for their children through the use of greys, blacks and whites.

Personally, I get a series of compliments whenever I do let my boy-girl twins match outfits. I like to differentiate them through gendered colours like pink and purple for my daughter, and blue and green for my son; simply because I can. I was blessed to have one of each, so I try and have fun with them when styling.

Despite this, I still get told how cute my ‘girls’ look. Which makes me think, does colour play any role in how you perceive the child? – other factors like my son’s hair and facial features must play a larger role in identifying him which is plausible, but people still get it wrong.  

Clinical psychologist Linda Blair suggests; it enhances the attraction to twins when they lookalike; but to the unfavourable effect that it could have on how that child perceives themselves which I recognise. I want my kids to identify themselves as individuals first and foremost. Pink shouldn’t be my daughters favourite colour just because she is a girl; and blue vice versa for my son. I try and encourage them to pick and choose other colours in the spectrum, whether they correlate it with girls or boys I let them express themselves in whichever way they choose. Especially at the age of 3, where they are becoming more vocal; and also asserting their independence. I don’t feel obligated to dress them identically, perhaps if they were identical I may feel more inclined to do so. Yet, I am becoming more drawn to gender neutral colours such as white, yellow and black; not to mention the money it’s saving me in the long run by allowing me to mix and match easily.

 

Adding another dimension to the mix is the finding that the colours we choose to dress our children in can have implications on their mood (Huchendorf, 2007) either through enhancing anxiety, decreasing stress, or even arousing excitement. In fact, research suggests that children can be more sensitive to colours so this is something worth acknowledging when getting your kid ready each day. For example, letting my already active son wear a red top is likely to enhance his liveliness whereas green can relax him, as research has linked it to nature and therefore peace (Renk Etksi, 2017).

 

As the unisex market continues to expand amongst retailers, across the ages gender clothing is becoming less of a go-to for new parents, who are choosing to have more fun in their children’s wardrobes, rather than rolling with the typecasts. Times are changing, and so will the meaning of our favourite colours.

Lingerie began its modern inception as the frilly undergarment for the purposes of being appealing in the late 19th Century. Since then it has become a roughly $15 billion dollar industry. But why are corsets and lace panties such a touchy subject while also feeling like such a natural extension of femininity?

Many women share conflicting emotions when it comes to wearing and even buying lingerie. In the study “’You do act differently when you’re in it’: lingerie and femininity”, Rachel Wood conducted 16 in-depth interviews with a broad range of women concerning their thoughts on lingerie. Whilst there was never a homogeneous answer, the study exposed some of the excitement and insecurities that women feel when slipping into a pair of stockings.

Let’s start with one of the deepest questions. Why does one wear lingerie? Is it for their lover or for themselves? Many women feel unsure as to what the “point” of lingerie is supposed to be. Some argue that they experience a newfound confidence from putting on a show. Others note that they’re aiming to arouse the roaring desire from their partner. It seems it could be a little of both. Many women claimed that they experienced a thrill from just the thought and preparation that went into looking different (a testament to foreplay!). Others seemed nervous about the idea of being judged in a single “wow” moment that came with their big reveal. Although all the answers come in a spectrum, generally it feels as though there are two separate camps.

From a birds eye view, we can see lingerie as a way for a woman to leave her comfort zone and become something different. One of the most profound quotes from the study was about how, “Bodies then can be thought not as objects, upon which culture writes meanings, but as events that are continually in the process of becoming”. This notion of the body being an event is interesting. It makes the idea of wearing lingerie less of a game of dress up and more of an experience of the body itself. All clothing can be thought of this way but lingerie is explicitly sexual. The intricate outfits and eye-catching straps are intended to exemplify the body underneath. After their big reveal, many women said they had to keep their partner from tearing their outfit off in order to get their “moneys worth”. It’s not about you in the outfit, it’s about you.

Regardless of a woman’s personal feelings on lingerie there is no doubt a cultural stigma that exists around buying it. When the women in the study were asked what they were looking for in lingerie, often the only requirement was that it was, “nice”. Stereotypical “stripper outfits” were often thrown out as options (not that there’s anything wrong with roleplay). I think that this outlines the sort of “all seeing eye” we can feel from our culture on the expression of a woman’s body. We want to be tasteful but at the same time we don’t want to feel confined. Going to a boutique and speaking to an employee can be intimidating in such a sensitive process. This could be why online lingerie stores such as Yandy are seeing a boom. It’s interesting to see how the more private matter of wearing lingerie has this almost necessary public aspect in buying it that deters some women. No comments really, just some food for thought.

It still feels as though we haven’t reached anything conclusive. Lingerie remains mysterious. It’s no wonder though, it’s an expression of sexuality. If sex itself were simple to understand then it wouldn’t be so desirable. It’s the tension and uncertainty that makes it exciting. It’s the difference between eating plain yogurt and eating red velvet cake. One is rich and complex and the other is…yogurt. Lingerie evokes emotion and directly addresses identity and the body while remaining passive. It’s a form of self-expression that can be seen to break new boundaries for women. It’s ok if you wear it and it’s ok if you don’t. Some people like certain pairs of jeans. It’s a continued discussion in displays of sexuality for women and it won’t go away anytime soon.

Our main goal at The Psychology of Fashion Blog(TM) is to provide interesting and informative research on all things Fashion Psychology. Help us to continue to provide this free service by giving a small donation. Thank you for your continued support!

The Fashion Industry Is One of the Biggest Supporters of Modern Slavery Across the Globe

For a few years, the idea that the fashion industry was the world’s second-most polluting industry circulated constantly, repeated in endless articles and sustainability summits. While that fact has turned out to be impossible to prove, a new report suggests one that’s just as dark: The fashion supply chain funnels more money toward modern slavery than any other industry besides tech.

[Fashionista]

How Do You Really Measure The Success Of A Fashion Degree?

Every year Central Saint Martins opens its doors to the public for its degree show. The historic institution is renowned for having been the platform for trailblazing alumni including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Stella McCartney and Christopher Kane. But as with all good things, it comes at a price.

[i-D]

Is Posting Selfies Motivated by Narcissism?

Selfies (photographs one takes of oneself at arm’s length, usually with a smartphone) seem to be everywhere. We see people snapping photos of themselves while out on the town, and we see our friends posting their selfies on social media. Given that sharing selfies literally involves turning the camera on oneself, many people have wondered if taking selfies is narcissistic.

[PsychologyToday]

4-Day Work Weeks Are The Future & Here’s The Proof

Everyone knows the dangers of overwork – stress, mental ill health, obesity, heart attack, a sleep deficit that carries its own associated health risks, to name a few – but often it’s unavoidable. Tech has led to an ‘always on’ work culture and many companies still value being physically present at the office ahead of productivity.

[Refinery29]

Zandra Rhodes Talks Diversity, Social Media And Shoes

It’s so funny,” Zandra Rhodes tells Vogue of how she ended up in Kurt Geiger’s autumn/winter 2018 campaign. “They were my neighbours for almost 20 years!” The brand’s factory, it transpires, was situated next to the Fashion Textile Museum, which Rhodes founded, from 2000 to 2011. The accessories giant upscaled to larger premises in Clerkenwell three years ago, but Rhodes is still fond of its footwear.

[Vogue]

These Are The 3 Bags To Invest In For AW18, According To The Net-A-Porter Gang

There are the timeless designer handbags that will always be worth investing in, ie, your Chanel boy bags, Chloe Nile cross bodys or even your Loewe puzzle bags. Then there are the classics in the making, the niche designer brands that you might not have heard of yet but are about to serve up the next IT bag.

[MarieClaire]

It’s officially summer which means everyone wants to look and feel their best. Most people’s NewYear’s resolutions would have been to work out more, improve their health and get into the best shape of their lives. I myself started a little later than most and have only become more active in the past couple of months, but one thing I noticed about myself, was my need to buy new workout gear in preparation for my new active lifestyle. This got me thinking, do the workout clothes you wear actually, aid your motivation to work out?

Technically, if you’re just starting to work out, you need nothing but your own body and a little bit of space, so why do people feel the need to invest in clothing before they’ve even started? Brands have started to respond to this need with more and more companies coming out with activewear ranges. More specifically, Lululemon has recently produced an “engineered sensations” range which is activewear based on “how you want to feel”. Although this is an interesting idea, is there any truth behind it, or are brands just trying to capitalise on the fact that people will do anything to feel like they are more active.

Activewear boosts confidence

The classic studies by Adam and Galinsky in the Journal of General Psychology in 2012, showed that wearing a doctor’s lab coat, makes you more likely to be careful and pay attention to things. This highlights that clothing can influence your behaviour, so, in line with this you would predict that wearing good activewear could have the power to make you feel more athletic and therefore motivated to workout. It could have the ability to give you the confidence to go to the gym even if you are someone who suffers from gym anxiety.

But the key finding of the experiment, which is most relevant to the current topic, is that the lab coat only influenced the person’s behaviour if they were physically wearing it. This shows that just buying activewear in preparation to workout does not provide any benefit in motivation. What might be more productive is to get up in the morning and wear those new pieces straight away. That way you will experience the benefits of so-called “enclothed cognition” , feel more athletic and will have completed an effective work out by the end of the day.

Athletic Identity

From another perspective, workout clothes can help you feel more accepted as an athletic individual by other gym goers, which can also help boost your confidence. In 2006, Collinson and Hockey tracked the recovery of two injured runners. During their two year recovery period, the runners wore their running kit even when only going on walks as they felt that if they looked like runners then they would still feel accepted by the running community which would help them maintain their runner identities. This is an interesting observation as it might be that buying and wearing new activewear helps you feel more identified with the other active individuals and therefore gives you a new, more active identity. As a result of this, it may make having a workout routine easier as you link yourself to the identities of other gym goers who work out frequently.

Although you may think that what other people do in the gym doesn’t effect you, having a group identity and feeling like you belong can massively benefit your workout. The most obvious example of this is with group workout classes such as the infamous soul cycle. If you attend one of these classes feeling like you look the part in your new workout gear, you will most likely also act the part by feeling more confident in your personal athletic identity, but also in your identity as a member of the group. If all members of the group feel like they belong then you can all focus on your workout and motivate each other to go harder. The same logic can be seen within a sports team where team members wear the same kit.

So maybe there is some benefit in investing in some good workout clothes to help inspire you with your health kick. But the take home message is… make sure you actually wear them! That way they can serve their purpose and not sit in the corner of your wardrobe gathering dust.

With all the new styles and brands that are creating such innovative, fashion led activewear it has never been easier to rock workout clothes during the day. If that can help motivate you to be more active via giving you a new identity and helping you feel accepted, or by giving you the confidence of a capable athletic person, then I say go for  it!

With the combination of good weather and the Royal Wedding, the Office for National Statistics has determined that we are in serious buying mode: retail purchases increased by 1.3% between April and May of this year, with a 6.3% and 3.9% growth in the amount and quantity bought (respectively) in May 2018 compared to 2017. What good timing, as retailers are starting to crack on with summer sales like Alex and a new girl in Love Island . But unlike Alex, sales are largely successful at convincing us they are worthwhile. Why is this? What is it about a sale that encourages us to part with our money?

As a disclaimer, this is not to say that we as consumers are stupid and blinded by glaring red sales signs and eye-watering discounts. We generally know that if we spend money on a discounted item, we lose money, no matter the invisible cash ‘saved’ and potential pride at our good life choices. However, this rational logic is all well and good until you’re actually in a sale. Knee deep in discarded crew tops and trousers 3 sizes out of your way, shoppers bustling around you scavenging in the racks for a hidden gem, you find yourself feeling rather faint with the either too bright or too low light and odious brand fragrance covering every inch of the room (@Zara @Hollister). 

These conditions are designed to bewilder and overload your senses, adding cognitive load to block your rational processing of everything around you, until you rely on impulse and instinctual judgement making alone. Have you ever wondered why clothes on tables are folded and neat? When you pick up the item to model it against yourself, you are obviously forced to touch the material. If you like the feel of the fabric, you add emotional attachment to it and are therefore at a greater risk of buying the product (if the discount and the nice smells weren’t enough) (Schafer, 2017). Your brain lacks the energy to consider whether the product is a worthwhile investment as it is struggling to process all the other potential items in the room, how much money you have in the bank, what you already have in your wardrobe. So you act on impulse.

This being said, not all sales tactics attempt to dupe shoppers without their awareness. Sales items display the original price alongside the new sales price. This is a given and an obvious tactic. With the original price as a reference point for its value, we note the reduction in monetary value and consider it a worthwhile investment, based upon the resources saved compared to its utility. The product becomes more tempting, even if the reference price is inflated in the first place. However this can backfire if the price reduction falls out of the ‘latitude of acceptance’. This is the range of prices around the ‘actual’ price that consumers will accept as the cost of the product. (Campbell & Diamond, 1990), . If the sale price is too low then the product may be feared as cheap or faulty,  or the reduction may be so small as to be unnoticeable (see Weber’s Law of Just Noticeable Difference) and not taken up. On the other hand, if the price is too high and above the range, greater than the highest accepted price, then one may determine that one’s cash is better spent elsewhere. Ultimately, a misstep by a retailer when re-pricing products may make the consumer more conscious that sales are designed to shift leftover product, for the financial benefit of the producer and not the consumer.

Yet sales still play into our loss aversion , ‘people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains’ (quote from Wikipedia, originally Kahneman & Tversky, 1992). Our preference to not lose out is powerful, almost double that of our preference for gaining something. Unfortunately, sales by their nature are framed as the potential for loss. Expressions like ‘while stocks last’ and ‘limited time only’ punctuate the sale with conditions of scarcity and uncertainty, alluding to a dwindling and finite supply of products at reduced prices (Tan & Hwang Chua, 2004). Even the sale itself limits our opportunities to buy the products we want, because it sets ourselves up against other consumers, people who may get there first and snatch up the 70% off cashmere jumper you never knew you wanted. Suddenly we are competitive (Yarrow, 2013). 

On the flip side, marketing for reduced-price items can make you feel as if you’re saving money, even before you look at the price reduction. The posters skip the step in which you decide whether you actually want the item and assume you already do and offer you a tremendous 60 % saving – you’re just too slow to realise it, keep up. Overall, when shoppers read all these cues they may crack under the pressure, the ambiguity, scarcity and panic motivating them to jump into the sale and avoid the potential ‘loss’ (Tversky & Kahneman, 1992). What’s more, Tan & Hwang Chua (2004) found that even when consumers strongly agreed that sales are simply ‘ploys by retailers to protect their own financial interests’ the same consumers did not deny that they could be persuaded by these selling tactics.

But the biggest barrier to thinking rationally about sales? You enjoy them. For one, the excitement of a bargain ‘interferes with your ability to clearly judge whether it is actually a good offer or not’ (‘The Psychology of Shopping for bargains’, BBC). Clearly, the treat yo self mentality can lead us into trouble. Equally, in the split second in which we decide to buy something, we experience a rush of dopamine at the anticipation of the ‘reward’ alone. In this sense we may be no more evolved than monkeys. It was observed that monkeys’ dopamine levels spike upon a ‘cue’ that they may receive a reward, until they have carried out the action necessary to receive the reward. (see Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure). This can be paralleled to the decision to buy an item and the process of purchasing. Despite popular culture, dopamine’s role as a neurotransmitter is credited more as a mediator between desire and motivation, than for pleasure directly (Berridge & Robinson, 1998). For instance, in between the monkey doing what it needs to receive the reward and actually getting it, the dopamine spike drops off to 0 (see the graph below – Credit to Robert Sapolsky)

Therefore the spike in dopamine motivates the monkey for the chase, the anticipation of pleasure, rather than the prize. We may be motivated in the same way to buy that sale item. The anticipation-period can be the time it takes to reach the till, or it can be the time in between searching plus ordering something online and the eventual delivery of the item. Notably, an international survey conducted by Razorfish (cited in Weinschenk, 2015) found that of the 1,680 shoppers across the US, UK, Brazil and China, an average of 75.75% of consumers are more excited by online deliveries than in-store purchases; being forced to wait longer extends the anticipation period and is perceived as increased excitement for the item. Remembering this excitement motivates us to order more again.

And once the consumer has acquired the coveted item? The rush of dopamine can be followed by intense guilt, after-purchase regret. ‘Why did I buy this? I was trying to save money. It doesn’t even look good on me’. You may be lucky and come away with an item that you genuinely like. You may even emerge with an item you have been waiting to go on sale and you may revel in the joy of anticipation. But if you are suddenly surprised by a sale, like an amorous Islander who is saying all the right things to you in the heat of the moment but you sense somewhere in the back of your mind that you might regret the interaction, my advice: Look at the sale, appreciate the sale, back away from the sale.

What is the first image that pops into your mind at the mention of the phrase “I wear the pants in this house”? This is just one bit of evidence as to how fashion and imagery have a profound impact on our perception, beliefs, as well as our judgment. For decades, the image of a man wearing a well-tailored suit represented authority, power, and strength. A few fashion revolutions and creative minds later starting with Coco Chanel’s suit for women, the once men-only item has become a staple of feminine success.

Some may see it as a corporate, constricting, dull manner of dressing, yet it represents freedom and empowerment for which women fought very hard. Despite this inherent dichotomy of the suit, this simple, but powerful combination of garments has once again seen a new wave of appreciation by some of the most popular brands in the world. It has brought on new fashion questions, and a new direction of the suit’s fast-advancing evolution.

The Power of Perception

No matter how much we like to think highly of ourselves when it comes to understanding our fellow humans, we still do judge the book by its cover. Studies have shown that even the slightest difference in office attire can lead to a wide spectrum of conclusions, from one extreme to another – a single undone button can suddenly make a woman seem provocative rather than professional. The same effect can be achieved with a skirt that is just below, or just above the knees.

This seems especially true for ladies who hold more powerful, management positions, as they come with greater expectations and responsibility, associated with more conservative attire. This image alone, or how a woman’s dress code can make or break the key impression she leaves on her potential client or employer, leads us to make more subdued, modest-looking clothes.

The Perception of Power

On the flip side of the power game, we ourselves are deeply shaped by our clothing decisions. It may sound absurd to those who are unfamiliar with the concept, but it’s not just our confidence that is shaped by our clothes. Wearing a suit actually puts your brain in a different gear, so to speak.

As professor of psychology Abraham Rutchick explained, the feeling of power that comes with formal clothes is the driving force of our changing thinking patterns. Simply put, wearing a suit can actually push your mind into more abstract, big-picture thinking processes. So, ladies, if you wish to have an added advantage over your everyday mindset, by all means, put on that pantsuit – it’s good for business.

Image Source: Instagram - @Kay-ttitude

Brands to suit you (up)

Ever since women started taking positions of power and thus introduced their own, creative touch to the traditional suit, brands have started to be much more playful with the trend. As a timeless one, much like the little black dress or the classy black pump, suits will never go out of style – they only tend to be shapeshifters in order to survive the constant need for diversity.

From the classic black suit as seen on Dakota Johnson, all the way to the velvet blue beauty worn by Cara Delevingne, the need for suits has grown rapidly over the past few years. Think: from the classics such as Versace with a more colorful twist, all the way to quirky cuts made by Gabriele Colangelo, exquisite for the office as well as the cocktail party with the clients.

The Changing Tides

Once upon a time, the classic suit was considered the only appropriate office attire. Now that we have women in positions of power around the globe, from Angelina Jolie to Hilary Clinton, they are the ones making and mending the rules. This staple of style is no longer a symbol of exclusively male power, but the one of feminine victory.

Perhaps we cannot erase decades of inequality and how what we wear affects the judgment of others, but we can certainly try our best to be the embodiment of the change that was long overdue – and the power suit is a good place to start.

The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ was featured in Grazia discussing the way women internalize misogyny in their clothing choices.

‘Though designers are weighted to dictate these rules, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, Fashion Psychologist, explains, ‘Fashion rules are no different from social norms – unwritten rules about how we think and behave and dress. We follow fashion rules because they provide a guideline for what we should and shouldn’t wear in order to fit into certain social groups, which in turn fosters healthy relationships. We also form fashion rules because the influential fashion publications who dispense these rules act as a type of authority figure. In general, humans are socialised to obey authority figures.’ She uses the miniskirt as an example, which was launched as a symbol of women’s emancipation but as Shakaila says, ‘has turned into a factor of the submission of women to a male aesthetic, which causes women to generally shy away from the garment.’

But, where does this male gaze stem from? Shakaila is convinced it’s learned behaviour at play. ‘Evolutionary psychology states that a pronounced cleavage signals high fertility levels in females which peaks males interest in their quest to find ‘the best’ mate. That’s why low-cut tops draw more attention than say crop tops or booty shorts.’

I’ve developed many bad habits over the years. I cannot start eating my dinner unless I’ve found a sufficiently entertaining show to watch. I haven’t gone to bed at a decent hour in years and I’ve been known to fall asleep with a slab of make-up on. But one thing that I share with 20-30% of the population is my nail-biting obsession. I’ve had short and stubby nails for as long as I can remember. Whilst I’ve always admired the long and dainty nails of my mother and friends I never understood how they could just …let them grow.

Nail-Biting or Onychophagia is a type of Body Focused Repetitive Disorder. These types of disorders are distantly related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and can be equally difficult to quit as sufferers often accept their habit and resolve that they are too weak willed to quit. Like many nail biters, I’m aware of the disgusting consequence of my habit and its subsequent impact on my physical health but alas I still persist, often subconsciously.

In an attempt to get a better understanding of my unfashionable affliction I looked deeper into the psychological causes of Onychophagia. Greek philosopher Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC) considered the appearance of fingernails to be pivotal in the characterisation of people. Individuals possessing un-manicured nails were considered to be lackadaisical. Fast forward 2000 years later to early psychoanalytic scholars such as Freud who regarded nail-biting as a return to the oral stage of development, an aggressive motivation represented by biting and the desire for the breast represented by putting things in one’s mouth. Well.

Luckily for me, research has developed since then and psychologists now believe that nail-biting occurs for less ‘Electra Complex’ based reasons. A 2006 study by Williams, Rose and Chisholm investigating nail-biting in young adults found that the habit occurs as a result of boredom or stress suggesting that negative and unstimulating environments are a nail-biters worst nightmare. A commonly held belief is that nail-biting is a manifestation of anxiety. However, research investigating Onychophagia in children were unable to find sufficient evidence to suggest that nail-biters are any more anxious than those who do not partake. More recently, psychologists have linked nail-biting to perfectionism.

Considering that in their natural habitat my jagged and stubby nails don’t resemble anything close to perfection I found this result to rather surprising. However, research has found that people who engage in Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours like nail-biting “demonstrate maladaptive planning styles characterized by high standards and unwillingness to relax, two inherent traits in perfectionists.” Similarly, when surveying Nail-Biters, results also found that when compared to non-biters, biters have a tendency to over-plan, overwork themselves, become easily frustrated without high-levels of activity and exhibit many more traits possessed by Organizational Perfectionists.

So now I’ve figured out how I bite my nails and have resolved that I’m determined to quit, I need to consider how I’m going to fix the issue. Avoiding boredom and unstimulating environments at all costs whilst ideal, let’s face it, is pretty unrealistic. Studies have found that nail-biting occurs least often when people are reprimanded for their behaviour. As much as I’m sure my mother would relish the opportunity to give me a good telling off every time my hand ascends towards my face that won’t work because, jobs. Recent intervention research has concentrated on habit reversal, which focuses on awareness training and relaxation. However, Adesso and Norberg (2001) conclude that the long-term effects of these methods are not as impressive as the initial results.  

One thing I’ve noticed is that I am more reluctant to give into temptation when my nails are done. Like most nail-biters it’s not uncommon to experience self-consciousness when visiting nail salons as technicians have been reported as going so far as to refuse serving clientele with botch nails at all. To make things easier, we’ve made a list of the highest rated items you’ll need to give your nails first class treatment as well as a break from your gnashing teeth, all from the comfort of your home.

Do you have any other tricks to battle Onychophagia? Sound off in the comments below!

The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ was featured in Short List discussing the psychological reasons why men overspend on clothing. 

‘Fashion psychologist and founder of The Psychology of Fashion blog, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, believes that the core of this newfound male behaviour is the “evolutionary impulse to mate.” She argues that buying and showing off expensive goods, otherwise known as ‘peacocking’, is simply done to impress others. “In nature, even though the male peacock is attracting potential predators by flashing his brightly coloured tail, the increased possibility of attracting a potential suitor makes it all worth the risk,” she says. “It’s the same for men. In this competitive era of dating, even if spending a fortune on clothes and trainers may do serious damage to the bank account, the ability to say ‘hey, I’m so resourceful that I can almost throw money away’ is a serious motivational factor when it comes to men’s spending habits.”’