The impact of athletic clothing style and body awareness on motor performance in women

Psychon Bull Rev. 2020 Oct;27(5):1025-1035. doi: 10.3758/s13423-020-01755-2.


The type of clothing worn, revealing versus concealing, can affect the performance of women on cognitive tasks. This difference in performance may arise because of changes in body awareness that may draw cognitive resources from the goal task. The present study investigated the influence of the style of athletic clothing and body awareness on visual-motor performance in women. Participants (women ages 18-35 years) were randomly assigned to wear tight and revealing (TR group, n = 40) or loose and concealing (LC group, n = 40) athletic clothing. All participants completed the same visual-motor aiming task to assess spatiotemporal measures of motor performance. In addition to the clothing, participants were primed to be conscious of their bodies via measurements of height, weight, and waist circumference; photographs taken of their bodies; a computerized body-size distortion task; and a mirror in the testing chamber. Results revealed that the TR group had increased movement time variability and did not show performance improvements relative to the LC group. These differences suggest that style of clothing may influence motor performance in women by reallocating cognitive resources towards the body and away from the motor task at hand. This research highlights the interactions between cognitive and motor processes and, potentially, the importance of considering the impact of clothing on performance in many different contexts.

Keywords: Body consciousness; Clothing comfort; Cognitive resources; Motor planning.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Clothing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Sports
  • Young Adult