A couple of years ago, my local newspaper, The Nottingham Post, interviewed me for a Halloween story concerning the psychology of fancy dress. Before I was interviewed, I have done a search of academic literature databases and couldn’t locate a single academic paper that had been published on the subject. Even though this didn’t surprise me, it did mean that everything I said to the journalist was opinion and speculation at best.
The explanation for compiling a list similar to this was to have a better notion of just what the psychological motivation is behind dressing within a fancy dress costume. Although many people might state that the main reason for dressing up in fancy dress is because it’s an entertaining and exciting move to make, a list I compiled clearly shows all the different motivations is significantly higher than one might initially suspect. I’m not claiming that my list is exhaustive, however it reveals that reasons for wearing cosplay costumes are numerous and varied. Reasons might be financial (to generate money, to improve money for charity), sexual (particular fancy dress outfits being arousing either towards the wearer or the observer), psychological (feeling a part of a united group, attention-seeking, exploring other areas of an individual’s personality), practical (concealing true identity while engaged in a criminal act), and/or idiosyncratic (looking to break a world record). For other individuals it will be coercive (e.g., being required to dress as a kind of sexual humiliation, or punishment for losing a bet).
“It is not merely punks and skinheads who place on fancy dress; Scottish country dancers, bowls players, musicians and many more their very own special costumes. Mass sorts of leisure usually do not aid to give a sense of identity, with the exception of supporting sports teams, which certainly does. This is basically the more engrossing and fewer common sorts of leisure that do most for identity”.
It’s debatable whether this really identifies fancy dress but for some people, fancy dress will almost always be about either self-identity and group identity. In addition, i stumbled on a web-based article by British psychologist Dr. Catherine Tregoning that investigated what people embark on most at Halloween and what it says about them in terms of their occupation (I ought to add that the article was over a job-hunting website). At Halloween, can you watch horror films? Do you carve pumpkins? Would you continue ghost hunts? Do you like dressing up in harley quinn costumes? If you, Dr. Tregoning claimed that:
“This may mean you’re what type to maintain reinventing yourself and sometimes change career! Or will you operate in different guises with your current role, changing your personality and presenting your outward self differently as outlined by who you’re with or the task at hand? Or do you want some kind of escapism from your day job? If you’re great at acting a part on Halloween – then make use of your skills to “act” positive about interviews or “act” calm under pressure when delivering a presentation”
Another article by Rafael Behr published within the Guardian examined the politics and psychology of fancy dress. Associated the psychology, Behr’s views had some crossover with all the interview I did so with my local newspaper on the subject:
“Children love dressing up, particularly in clothes that can make them feel evolved. Adults like dressing mainly because it reminds them of this sensation of being children getting interested in dressing like a grownup. What this suggests is the fact actually as being a grownup is normally overrated and involves spending lots of time in disappointing clothes. Anybody who would go to a party in fancy dress will feel a pang of anxiety immediately before arrival they have crafted a mistake 05dexopky it is really not an expensive dress party whatsoever. When you have these feelings before coming to a wedding or funeral, go home and change. Only senior people in the clergy may wear ridiculous clothes in churches”.
Finally, another online article that examined dressing for Halloween was one by psychotherapist Joyce Matter who examined whether wonder woman costume enhance a person’s alter ego (or as she termed it, an individual’s “shadow side”).
“Do all of us reveal our shadow sides using our costume choices? Do those elements of self that we have repressed express themselves uncontrollably if we are at Spirit Halloween? Perhaps… Expressive play generally is one of probably the most cathartic experiences in addition to giving us the freedom to discover hidden areas of self that could contain valuable resources our company is repressing. A refusal or inability to do this reveals difficulty with self-acceptance and possibly a preoccupation with the opinions of others…Through my function as a therapist, I actually have visit believe the shadow side will not be necessarily dormant characteristics that happen to be negative-they frequently contain positive areas of self which we certainly have not been liberated to embody. Once we honor and integrate them, they could become powerful strengths”.
As being an adult, I have never put on fancy dress for Halloween. The truth is, really the only time We have dressed up in anything approaching fancy dress was after i played a French butler throughout a murder mystery evening with friends. While there is no scientific research on the topic I don’t know should i be typical of middle-aged men or whether I am just just content with my well being which i don’t feel the need to behave out or experiment throughout the confines of costume role-play.