Signalling Theory

Last Updated on July 22, 2021

Signalling Theory

Signalling in this context is when something about you affects how others perceive you.

How you present yourself is an indicator of not just your personality, but your lifestyle and beliefs and more. You are constantly signalling (and receiving) a tonne of information. Some intention, some unintentional.And if you think you are not signalling, you are probably just counter-signaling. 😉

Personal style

I used to worship function over form in most areas. (Those who measure close to INTJ might identify with this). I thought it was really smart. Turns out it was not – I was missing a lot.

zI thought that personal style – particularly clothing choices – was particularly silly and superfluous. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it’s not that simple. I guess you realize less and less things are as simple as you think they are as you grow up. I digress.

First impressions

It turns out other people will make a whole load of assumptions about you within the first few seconds of getting a look at you – so it matters to look the part. First impressions matter in particular.

(If you lean more consequentialist, this won’t bother you. If you lean more deontologist. it might.)

Style affects how others perceive you

How you present yourself – how you dress and groom yourself – causes other people to make judgements about you. You might not like this but it is how our brains work. We are pattern matches. How you present yourself – what you are signalling – is an indicator of not just your personality, but your lifestyle and beliefs.

And it’s worth restating – if you think you are not signalling, you are probably just counter-signaling.

This is a great and funny write up on signalling.

Style affects how you perceive yourself

Enclothed cognition

If signalling is when you are trying to affect how others perceive you, then it follows that the idea of “enclothed cognition is” how you signal to yourself!?

Enclothed cognition is the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. 

Enclothed Cognition Study

This is fascinating! I guess this is why it’s still worth getting out of the pajamas even if working from home!