Research has found that people change their attitude towards others when donned an uniform
It found that a person's attitude to others in society changed when they donned an officious-looking uniform.
The news will be of no surprise to all those who have tried to reason with anyone from a traffic warden to a railway ticket inspector.
Neuroscientists in Canada ran a series of visual tests among volunteer students before and after they put on a police-style top and bottoms.
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And they found that once kitted out, they were more likely to show a bias towards people who appeared to be 'of a lower status' including those dressed in hoodies.
However, they were not more or less prejudiced against black or minority subjects – though the researchers felt this may not have been the same if the tests had been done in America!
Cognitive neuroscientists from McMaster University in Ontario told the journal Frontiers in Psychology that the uniform affects the way the wearer perceives others.
Neuroscientists ran visual tests among students before and after they put on police-style clothes
The 'symbolic power and authority' it gave them changed the way they looked at others, making them more suspicious of those who fitted the stereotype image of criminal or antisocial behaviour.
The hoodie has to some extent become a symbol of lower social standing and inner-city youth
Researcher Sukhvinder Obhi
A series of tests showed a series of images of people on a screen to distract the volunteers as they performed simple tasks of spotting random shapes.
The researchers tracked and analysed the reactions to the images that flashed up to see how long they were distracted by them.
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The longer the distraction the more the attention was on the images, suggesting more suspicion and bias towards some rather than others.
They said officious-looking uniforms affects the way the we perceive others
There was no difference in reaction times based on the colour of the person in the images between those wearing the police-style garb and those who were not.
But the 'police' officers showed a longer reaction time to those dressed in hoodies which the researchers felt was significant.
Researcher Sukhvinder Obhi, professor of psychology, neuroscience and behaviour, said it showed that the uniform alone – rather than a police 'culture' or training or experience – was enough to alter perception of others.
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He added: "We know that clothing conveys meaning and that the hoodie has to some extent become a symbol of lower social standing and inner-city youth.
"This stereotype might be activated to a greater degree when donning the police style uniform.
"This may have contributed to the changes in attention that we observed.
"Given that attention shapes how we experience the world, attentional biases toward certain groups of people can be problematic."
The researchers are collaborating with US teams to see if the same results occur in the United States.
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