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Why dressing as Batman can make you more productive at work

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Mike Rampton
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Dress as Batman to get things done

Wearing fancy dress when nobody else is doing so is basically everyone’s worst nightmare. Everyone remembers the idiot kid from school who got it into their head that it was Halloween on the 30th and showed up dressed as a sexy clown on a day everyone else was in uniform and it definitely wasn’t me so SHUT UP I WAS JUST CONFUSED, I STILL HAD SEPTEMBER’S CALENDAR UP BECAUSE I LIKED THE PICTURE ON IT SO I HADN’T TURNED IT OVER.

However, a new study has found that dressing up as an ass-kicking, gets-shit-done superhero like Batman might actually lead to increased productivity, WHICH WAS OBVIOUSLY WHAT I WAS GOING FOR, I WASN’T A SEXY CLOWN, I WAS A PRODUCTIVE CRIME-FIGHTING CLOWN, THE SEXINESS CAME FROM WITHIN, SO LEAVE ME ALONE AND SHUT UP. 

Child development researchers Rachel E. White of Hamilton College in New York and Emily Prager and Catherine Schaefer from the University of Minnesota left kids in a room with a computer and an iPad. The computer had a boring task on it, the iPad was an iPad and therefore fun, and the kids were given ten minutes in which they were instructed to work on the computer but told they could play on the iPad if they got bored. Every minute, they were asked over the loudspeaker if they were working hard.

Why dressing as Batman can make you more productive at work

Swooping into work like…

Three groups were put to the task - a control group (asked “Are you working hard?” every minute), a group encouraged to think about themselves in the third person (asked “Is Alison/Dave/Jimmy/Melissa/etc working hard?” and a third group wearing fancy dress and addressed in character (“Is Batman working hard?”). It wasn’t just Batman. The children were also given the choice of Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder and Rapunzel - all reasonably industrious characters.

The researchers found that the group who were in character got the most work done, followed by the group referred to in the third person, leaving the ones addressed normally in the dust. The thinking is that the more that the children could distance themselves from the immediate gratification of the iPad, the easier the temptation was to resist.

But what are the real-world implications of this for you, a grown-up who obviously uses the right page of their calendar and didn’t cry all through maths until their greasepaint ran down their face and stained their oversized bow-tie? 

The study doesn’t directly suggest any, as it focuses on child development, but it seems like the more you can think of yourself as someone who gets things done, the more you’ll get done. And the sexier a clown you think of yourself as, the sexier a clown you’ll be. LEAVE ME ALONE.

(Images: Deedle-Dee Productions / DC Comics)

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Mike Rampton

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