A new study from Northwestern University shows that people who wear white lab coats while completing “attention-related tasks” made half as many mistakes as those in their regular clothes.
A reporter covering the study for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggested that this might mean that students taking the SAT wearing a white lab coat might score better than those who didn’t.
While that’s quite a leap to take without a formal study of students actually taking the college entrance exams, it did give me pause. I have a junior in high school who’ll be taking the test this year, and I’ve been inundated with offers of classes that cost buckets of money that promise to make my kid score higher. So maybe the price of a white lab coat is worth the investment.
Although, this is how I see the conversation with my 16-year-old going down:
Me: “If you wear this white lab coat to your SAT today, you might make half as many mistakes as you would if you just wear that color coordinated T-shirt, shorts and sneakers that you painstakingly picked out this morning to make you look like you have as much swag as possible.”
Son: “I’m not wearing that in public.”
Me: “But it will help you score higher, get into a better college and therefore have a much more successful life. You just have to appear in it in front of your friends for a couple of hours.”
Son: “No way. Are you trying to destroy my social life for the remainder of the school year?”
Me: “Please? I will also pay you $100 to wear it.”
Son: “Forget it.”
Yes, that’s definitely how it would go down. So most likely I won’t bother giving it a try.