Outside the lab, it's hard to say what comes first—the choice of clothes or the state of mind.
"Sometimes a mood catches up with an outfit, but what we wear is generally based on how we feel," says Jennifer Baumgartner, a clinical psychologist and author of You Are What You Wear

Outside In: Dress to Impress Yourself

Can you explain to me what does "outside the lab" mean?

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    Outside of experimental science. In the lab, the researcher can begin with specific conditions, and observe the effect. So they can either control the garments, and ask the 'subjects' how they feel as they put on each one, or they can first determine the mood of the 'subject', and then ask them to choose the clothes. Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


The article linked discusses how peoples behaviour is modified by the clothes they wear. It begins by describing some laboratory experiments, conducted under controlled conditions, where the volunteers were observed to perform a task better if the were wearing a white lab coat.

The experimenters then studied people outside the lab where they had no control over what garments people wore, but still observed changes in behaviour, particularly when subjects were wearing team uniforms whilst playing sports. But they say that, in general, it was difficult to say whether the clothes a subject wore determined their behaviour or if their mood whilst dressing determined the clothes they chose.

Having said all that, outside the lab is a phrase commonly used to express the idea that once the controlled environment is removed, results and actions can become unpredictable.

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