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Turnout: Psychological Meaning

Smart Turnout is, in fact, a regimental term, meaning ‘to look your absolute best, and have a stylish appearance about one’s self’. Wearing uniforms and coats can make people more conscious of their duties and encourage them to pay more attention to their jobs. To improve self-image, even assiduously emulating someone’s style may be a good idea. In military, couture turnout is inculcated from cadet training level. It not only reinforces discipline but indicates morale of the troops as well, its meticulousness is best practiced by militaries world-wide. 

by Col PK ‘Royal’ Mehrishi (Retd)

At a major Military Training Academy a few years ago, conduct of Officers at a social function was found to be highly unacceptable. A group of inebriated Officers threw beer bottles in the swimming pool and monopolized the dance floor with whiskey glasses in hands. Fearing misbehavior, all the ladies walked off the floor. Loud talk, use of cuss words in the vernacular, shabby dressing and bad social etiquettes are slowly becoming the norm rather than an exception in parties, messes and clubs.

Scientists have reported after studying a phenomenon they call en-clothed cognition: the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others. In other words, the effects of clothing on cognitive processes. The findings, on the website of The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are a twist on a growing scientific field called embodied cognition. We think not just with our brains but with our bodies, Dr Galinsky said, and our thought processes are based on physical experiences that set off associated abstract concepts. Now it appears that those experiences include the clothes we wear.

Remember the clothes we wear triggers a process on the onlooker and within ourselves regarding our self esteem, job we do, our schooling/family background, care, trustworthiness and a host of other emotions. Can a matter of such importance be allowed to pass casually? I guess for a vast majority it will be no or never. The experience of washing your hands is associated with moral purity and ethical judgments. Similarly, it has long been known that “clothing affects how other people perceive us as well as how we think about ourselves,” Dr Galinsky said.

Other experiments have shown that women who dress in a masculine fashion during a job interview are more likely to be hired, and a teaching assistant who wears formal clothes is perceived as more intelligent than one who dresses more casually. Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.

In the Defense Forces we have our uniforms from No 1 to 6, each for different occasion or season etc. Yes, the upkeep and wearing of uniform matters to each and everyone in the environment, more so the civilians who get to see us ride/drive for our PT parades, office, games, mess functions etc. in peace stations and see our visuals in print and electronic media from operational areas in combat uniform.

A recent phenomenon is to “jazz up”, look cool and funky in tattered jeans, printed shirts with over the top behavior in public places. One must remember our use of language, choice of words, wearing of appropriate dress for the occasion and ability to hold our liquor defines our breeding (at home, school, academies and units). It is also a reflection on the seniors who overlook social misdemeanors of their juniors to gain so called “cheap popularity”. There is only one occasion to be oddly dressed and these are organized fancy dress/theme parties.

Dress or clothing makes a man or vice versa? Any kind of clothing that is associated with a specific role activates all our knowledge and expectations about how people from that profession should behave. For example, wearing uniforms and coats can make people more conscious of their duties and encourage them to pay more attention to their jobs. To improve self image, even assiduously emulating someone’s style may be a good idea. Research shows that when we emulate the dress code of people we consider smart and powerful, we feel infused with these qualities as well. That’s certainly an argument for owning clothes that bring out the best in us.

Col PK ‘Royal’ Mehrishi (Retd), an alumnus of the NDA, has been an active Infantry combat leader for 28 Years. A qualified clinical psychologist, he is a prolific writer, author of several books, a TV panelist and a motivational speaker. In addition, he is a Harvard Business School product, certified in ‘Expert Negotiations’. He can be reached at Email: pkradventurer61@gmail.com