A few years ago, my local newspaper, The Nottingham Post, interviewed me to get a Halloween story in regards to the psychology of fancy dress. Before I was interviewed, I have done a search of academic literature databases and couldn’t get a single academic paper that was published on the topic. Even if this didn’t surprise me, it did suggest that everything I thought to the journalist was opinion and speculation at best.
The reason behind compiling a list like this was to acquire a better concept of precisely what the psychological motivation is behind dressing inside a fancy dress costume. Although many people might claim that the main reason for dressing up in fancy dress is simply because it’s an entertaining or 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, but it really implies that causes of wearing cosplay costumes a wide range of and varied. Reasons could possibly be financial (to make money, to improve money for charity), sexual (particular fancy dress outfits being arousing either on the wearer or the observer), psychological (feeling component of a united group, attention-seeking, exploring other facets of an individual’s personality), practical (concealing true identity while involved in a criminal act), and/or idiosyncratic (attempting to break a world record). For other individuals it might be coercive (e.g., being made to dress as a kind of sexual humiliation, or punishment for losing a bet).
“It is not only punks and skinheads who placed on fancy dress; Scottish country dancers, bowls players, musicians and many more get their special costumes. Mass sorts of leisure usually do not help to give a sense of identity, apart from supporting sports teams, which certainly does. It is the more engrossing and fewer common kinds of leisure that most for identity”.
It’s debatable whether this really refers to fancy dress but for many people, fancy dress will definitely be about either self-identity and group identity. I also found an internet article by British psychologist Dr. Catherine Tregoning that checked out what individuals engage in most at Halloween and what it really says about the subject with regards to their occupation (I should include that the article was on the job-hunting website). At Halloween, would you watch horror films? Would you carve pumpkins? Will you go on ghost hunts? Will you like dressing in spiderman costumes? Should you, Dr. Tregoning claimed that:
“This may mean you’re what type to hold reinventing yourself and often change career! Or will you function in different guises with your current role, switching your personality and presenting your outward self differently as outlined by who you’re with or even the task at hand? Or do you want some kind of escapism from the regular job? If you’re efficient at acting a part on Halloween – then utilize your skills to “act” positive about a job interview or “act” calm under pressure when delivering a presentation”
Another article by Rafael Behr published from the Guardian examined the politics and psychology of fancy dress. In relation the psychology, Behr’s views had some crossover together with the interview I did so with my local newspaper on the topic:
“Children love dressing up, particularly in clothes that will make them feel evolved. Adults like dressing up as it reminds them of that particular sensation of being children getting pumped up about dressing such as a grownup. What this means that is the fact that actually as being a grownup is usually overrated and involves spending a lot of time in disappointing clothes. Anybody who goes to an event in fancy dress will feel a pang of anxiety immediately before arrival that they have created a mistake 05dexopky it is not necessarily an expensive dress party in any way. When you have these feelings before arriving at a wedding event or funeral, go home and alter. Only senior individuals the clergy can 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 enhance a person’s alter ego (or as she termed it, an individual’s “shadow side”).
“Do many of us reveal our shadow sides with our costume choices? Do those areas of self that we have repressed express themselves uncontrollably once we have reached Spirit Halloween? Perhaps… Expressive play is usually one of the most cathartic experiences in addition to giving us the liberty to learn 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 and maybe a preoccupation with the opinions of others…Through my serve as a therapist, I have come to believe the shadow side is not really necessarily dormant characteristics that happen to be negative-they generally contain positive aspects of self which we certainly have not been liberated to embody. Once we honor and integrate them, they are able to become powerful strengths”.
For an adult, We have never wear fancy dress for Halloween. The truth is, the only real time I have decked out in anything approaching fancy dress was when I played a French butler in 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 happy with my well being that we don’t feel the need to behave out or experiment within the confines of costume role-play.