We've depressed you already by revealing the things in your daily life that are making you dumber. The good news is that this works both ways -- there are lots of little, arbitrary things that can boost your brain power in ways you'd never expect. Like ...
5What You're Wearing
Throughout this article, we'll be citing scientists, because all of us accept that scientists are smart guys. So how do you think they got the way they are? Genes? A bunch of so-called "education"? What if it turns out that the secret is just those lab coats they're always wearing? Surprise! Here's the weirdest thing you'll read today.
Researchers tested a group of participants on their brainpower with something called a Stroop test. The only difference between them was that half of them were dressed in a lab coat when they took the test. The results? Those wearing the lab coats only made half the mistakes of those who didn't wear the coats.
"I had an IQ of 45 before I put this on!"
Just to make sure this wasn't some insane fluke, they made another test, where participants had to find the differences between similar pictures. Some of the participants wore lab coats, but some of them were told they were actually wearing painters' coats. Again, they found that those who were wearing the lab coats scored significantly higher, even than those who were wearing the same thing but were told they were for painters. What the hell?
The lab coat subjects are on the left. Followed by "seeing a doctor's coat" and "wearing a painter's coat."
The researchers believe that wearing a lab coat simply makes us feel smarter, and as other psychologists have found, simply believing you're smarter actually makes you smarter. Sadly, this also implies that we all think painters are idiots.
But we know what you're almost certainly wondering -- how does this effect work with bikinis? Another study tested men and women by having them take an advanced math test, some while wearing sweaters, some in swimsuits. Afterward, they compared the scores from both outfits, and found that for women, wearing a bikini lowered their scores, but for men, it either stayed the same or increased.
Don't trust your male doctor unless he's wearing a lab coat and a thong.
Apparently, this is attributed to the idea that women are much more negatively affected by objectification than men, to the point that it screws up their attention and cognition. For men, they were actually proud of strutting their stuff, and so a tiny Borat-style mankini actually increased their abilities.
Now, before you run off and declare yourself ready to perform surgery just because you bought a set of surgical scrubs, stop and think about what this study really found. It's not about fashion's influence on your brain, it's about how flexible intelligence really is, based on your emotional state, your ability to focus and God knows how many other factors. After all, one reason intelligence is so hard to measure is that it's not like measuring somebody's height. Your intelligence changes based on what day it gets tested, the setting and mood you are in, how distracted you are and (as this study seems to imply) what you think is expected of you.
And, we bet if you think back, you'll realize that all of your best teachers in school knew that last one very well.