A couple of years ago, my local newspaper, The Nottingham Post, interviewed me for any Halloween story concerning the psychology of fancy dress. Before I used to be interviewed, I have done a search of academic literature databases and couldn’t get a single academic paper which had been published on the topic. Although this didn’t surprise me, it did signify everything I said to the journalist was opinion and speculation at best.
The explanation for compiling a listing this way was to have a better notion of what the psychological motivation is behind dressing within a fancy dress costume. Although a lot of people might claim that the biggest reason for dressing in fancy dress is simply because it’s an exciting or exciting thing to do, this list I compiled clearly shows all the different motivations is quite a bit in excess of one might initially suspect. I’m not claiming that my list is exhaustive, nevertheless it shows that reasons for wearing superhero costumes are numerous and varied. Reasons may be financial (to generate money, to raise money for charity), sexual (particular fancy dress outfits being arousing either on the wearer or perhaps the observer), psychological (feeling a part of a united group, attention-seeking, exploring other elements of an individual’s personality), practical (concealing true identity while involved in a criminal act), and idiosyncratic (seeking to break a world record). For other individuals it could be coercive (e.g., being required to dress up as a kind of sexual humiliation, or punishment for losing a bet).
“It is not merely punks and skinheads who placed on fancy dress; Scottish country dancers, bowls players, musicians and many others get their special costumes. Mass forms of leisure usually do not aid to give a sense of identity, apart from supporting sports teams, which certainly does. It will be the more engrossing and less common kinds of leisure which do most for identity”.
It’s debatable whether this really describes fancy dress but for a few people, fancy dress will almost always be about either self-identity and group identity. I also stumbled on an internet based article by British psychologist Dr. Catherine Tregoning that investigated what people take part in most at Halloween and just what it says about them with regards to their occupation (I must include that this content was with a job-hunting website). At Halloween, do you watch horror films? Can you carve pumpkins? Can you continue ghost hunts? Would you like dressing in d.va costumes? If you, Dr. Tregoning claimed that:
“This may mean you’re the type to hold reinventing yourself and quite often change career! Or can you operate in different guises within your current role, changing your personality and presenting your outward self differently based on who you’re with or maybe the task at hand? Or do you really need some form of escapism from the day job? If you’re efficient at acting a part on Halloween – then make use of your skills to “act” positive about a conversation or “act” calm under pressure when delivering a presentation”
Another article by Rafael Behr published inside 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 with my local newspaper on the subject:
“Children love dressing up, particularly in clothes which make them feel grown up. Adults like dressing mainly because it reminds them of that particular sensation of being children getting interested in dressing similar to a grownup. What this indicates is the fact actually as a grownup is usually overrated and involves spending lots of time in disappointing clothes. Anyone who would go to a party in fancy dress will feel a pang of anxiety immediately before arrival they have created a mistake 05dexopky it is far from an expensive dress party in any way. If you have this feeling before reaching a wedding event or funeral, go home and change. Only senior individuals the clergy may wear ridiculous clothes in churches”.
Finally, another online article that examined dressing up for Halloween was one by psychotherapist Joyce Matter who examined whether wonder woman costume draw out a person’s alter ego (or as she termed it, an individual’s “shadow side”).
“Do all of us reveal our shadow sides with the costume choices? Do those facets of self that we have repressed express themselves uncontrollably whenever we are in Spirit Halloween? Perhaps… Expressive play generally is one of the most cathartic experiences as well as giving us the liberty to find hidden areas of self that could contain valuable resources we have been repressing. A refusal or inability to do so reveals difficulty with self-acceptance as well as perhaps a preoccupation together with the opinions of others…Through my serve as a therapist, We have visit believe the shadow side will not be necessarily dormant characteristics that are negative-they often times contain positive areas of self which we now have not been liberated to embody. Once we honor and integrate them, they could become powerful strengths”.
Being an adult, I have never place on fancy dress for Halloween. In reality, really the only time We have decked out in anything approaching fancy dress was when I played a French butler during the murder mystery evening with friends. Because 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 content with living i don’t want to act out or experiment in the confines of costume role-play.