A couple of years ago, my local newspaper, The Nottingham Post, interviewed me for the Halloween story regarding the psychology of fancy dress. Before I used to be interviewed, I did a search of academic literature databases and couldn’t get a single academic paper which had been published on the topic. Even if this didn’t surprise me, it did suggest that everything I believed to the journalist was opinion and speculation at best.
The reason behind compiling an inventory like this was to get a better thought of precisely what the psychological motivation is behind dressing in a fancy dress costume. Although most people might claim that the main reason for dressing in fancy dress is mainly because it’s an entertaining and exciting course of action, their list I compiled clearly shows the range of motivations is much in excess of one might initially suspect. I’m not claiming that my list is exhaustive, nevertheless it shows that reasons for wearing cosplay costumes are numerous and varied. Reasons might be financial (to generate money, to raise money for charity), sexual (particular fancy dress outfits being arousing either for the wearer or maybe the observer), psychological (feeling component of a united group, attention-seeking, exploring other facets 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 people it may be coercive (e.g., being compelled to dress up 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 more get their special costumes. Mass kinds of leisure tend not to assist to give a feeling of identity, excluding supporting sports teams, which certainly does. It will be the more engrossing and much less common forms of leisure which 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. Also i stumbled on an internet article by British psychologist Dr. Catherine Tregoning that considered what individuals embark on most at Halloween and just what it says on them in terms of their occupation (I should include that the content was over a job-hunting website). At Halloween, would you watch horror films? Would you carve pumpkins? Would you go on ghost hunts? Will you like dressing up in harley quinn costumes? If you, Dr. Tregoning claimed that:
“This may mean you’re the type to help keep reinventing yourself and frequently change career! Or do you operate in different guises within your current role, altering your personality and presenting your outward self differently as outlined by who you’re with or perhaps the task at your fingertips? Or do you require some kind of escapism from the day job? If you’re good at acting a part on Halloween – then utilize your skills to “act” confident in an interview 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 using the interview I did with my local newspaper on the topic:
“Children love dressing up, specifically in clothes that will make them feel evolved. Adults like dressing as it reminds them of this a sense of being children getting excited about dressing like a grownup. What this indicates is that actually being a grownup is often overrated and involves spending lots of time in disappointing clothes. Anyone that would go to an event in fancy dress will feel a pang of anxiety immediately before arrival they have made a mistake 05dexopky it is not necessarily an expensive dress party at all. When you have these feelings before arriving at a wedding 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 we all reveal our shadow sides with the costume choices? Do those elements of self that we have repressed express themselves uncontrollably when we tend to be at Spirit Halloween? Perhaps… Expressive play can be one of the most cathartic experiences as well as giving us the freedom to find out hidden aspects of self that may contain valuable resources our company is repressing. A refusal or inability to do so reveals difficulty with self-acceptance and possibly a preoccupation using the opinions of others…Through my serve as a therapist, I actually have arrived at believe the shadow side will not be necessarily dormant characteristics that happen to be negative-they often contain positive elements of self which we have not been liberated to embody. Once we honor and integrate them, they may become powerful strengths”.
For an adult, We have never place on fancy dress for Halloween. In fact, really the only time I have dressed up in anything approaching fancy dress was when I played a French butler during a murder mystery evening with friends. As there is no scientific research on the topic I don’t know if I am typical of middle-aged men or whether I am just just happy with my life i don’t want to act out or experiment inside the confines of costume role-play.