Friday, May 2, 2008

What's In a Uniform?

In the third "thatmom" Podcast concerning Spiritual Abuse, the topic of the “uniform” of the homeschooling mom came up in the discussion.

As a consequence of social proof, Karen quickly identified the significance of this element of group behavior that was once used as an indicator of the type of homeschooling mom a person might be. Expanding upon that topic, I wanted to add some additional ideas to ponder about the other, powerful affects of uniforms themselves on human behavior.

Uniforms and dress convey a high degree of psychological power and greatly affect the conduct and thought one who wears a uniform. The practical considerations of uniforms help us cut through the mental work and confusion, allowing us to quickly and readily identify people in everyday life. But there is an additional effect that extends beyond the purposes of rapid identification of individuals that most people do not consider.

Did you ever consider why it is illegal to wear a military uniform if you are not in the military and not on active duty, functioning in a capacity of a role within the military (Army Regulation 670-1, paragraph 1-4)? British Psychiatrist William Sargent who treated survivors of “brainwashing” during the Korean War writes in his book, “Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing,” that the military uniform renders the wearer with the license to behave as if he were active duty military.

The effects of this pose danger to both the wearer (when he wears such attire when not contextually appropriate) and to the unsuspecting public. The rules that apply to an active duty military officer are not appropriate for civilian life during peacetime, but Sargent and others maintain that the deep rooted psychological effects of merely wearing a uniform out of context blurs a person’s internal sense of ethics and appropriate conduct. Soldiers have license and authority to take violent action against predators and threats if necessary within the context of their duties, so especially for those who have been active duty military in a war zone, wearing of uniforms in an inappropriate setting can be a very dangerous thing.

Ponder some additional online citations concerning uniforms:

From “The Psychological Effects of Uniforms” :

This is interesting. It seems that people may feel more secure if they are in uniform versus just wearing everyday clothing. The report and the results can be seen below:
“According to new research by G4S Security Services (UK), uniforms make men feel more secure. The research reveals that almost twice as many men (41%) than women (26%) believe wearing a uniform in a potentially violent situation reduces the likelihood of the individual being attacked.
45% of women believe that wearing a uniform in a potentially violent situation has no bearing on whether the individual is attacked compared to 34% of men. Over half of women (56%) claim that a uniform does not affect their opinion of a person.

"To End All Evil" by Rev. Curtis Webster

as noted on “Lucifer Goes to Church:
The Lucifer Effect Theology Blog,”

concerning the Stanford Prison Experiment:

Most of the volunteers, “prisoners” and “guards” alike, fit the cultural youth stereotypes of 1971. They were idealistic and rabidly anti-authoritarian. Some were politically active in the New Left and professed to be pacifists. They routinely denounced “fascism” and “police state tactics.” But . . . something happened to the “guards” when they put their uniforms on, donned their bad-guy shades, and picked up their nightsticks. Within hours of the beginning of the experiment, the “guards” began going through a frightening metamorphosis. These young men who believed so passionately in peace and universal freedom began to treat the “prisoners” with contempt and cruelty. They spoke to them as if they were no better than animals. They imposed demeaning and degrading punishments for the slightest infractions of arbitrary rules that they made up on the spot.

From The Psychological Influence of the Police Uniform”:

The crisp uniform of the police officer conveys power and authority. When a police officer puts on his or her uniform the officer is perceived in a very different way by the public. He or she is viewed as embodying each person’s stereotypes about all police officers. Research has suggested that clothing has a powerful impact on bow people are perceived, and this goes for the police officer as well. The uniform of a police officer has been found to have a profound psychological impact on those who view it. Research has also suggested that even slight alterations to the style of the uniform will change how citizens will perceive the officer.