“There’s just something hot about men or women in uniform.” You’ve probably heard people say something like this. But what is it about a uniform that makes a person look more attractive? Here are 3 possible explanations based in science for why uniforms increase attractiveness:
1) Confidence – We know from research that both self-confidence in one’s appearance and self-confidence in one’s ability to have good romantic relationships are highly positively correlated with facial and body attractiveness.1 In other words, greater confidence makes people feel more attractive. A confident appearance could also indicate financial security, as research finds that self-confidence and one’s positive evaluations about the self positively relate to income.2
2) Power – Uniforms often convey a sense of power and authority. One study examined how participants perceived physicians who wore a white lab coat vs. those who wore casual attire.3 Those who wore the uniform-like white coat were viewed as more authoritative and trustworthy. In addition, women who viewed male doctors found them more physically attractive when wearing a white lab coat vs. casual clothing.
3) Similarity – If you’re in a profession that requires you to wear a uniform, you may be more likely to find others in uniform especially attractive. We know from lots of psychology research that simply thinking someone is similar to us, regardless of whether they actually are similar, has a strong influence on attraction.4 However, if you’re someone who routinely wears a uniform, it may be more likely that others who wear uniforms share similar views to you. That’s also important because recent research indicates that we are more attracted to others with similar attitudes.5
Clearly there are several good reasons why we may find people in uniform more attractive. In fact, if you’re someone who wears a uniform or you’re simply interested in dating someone in uniform, there are dating sites like UniformDating.com that focus specifically on helping police, military, and others in uniform find love.
1Bale, C., & Archer, J. (2013). Self-perceived attractiveness, romantic desirability and self-esteem: A mating sociometer perspective. Evolutionary Psychology, 11(1), 68-84.
2Judge, T. A., Hurst, C., & Simon, L. S. (2009). Does it pay to be smart, attractive, or confident (or all three)? Relationships among general mental ability, physical attractiveness, core self-evaluations, and income. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(3), 742-755. doi:10.1037/a0015497
3Brase, G. L., & Richmond, J. (2004). The White-Coat Effect: Physician Attire and Perceived Authority, Friendliness, and Attractiveness. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(12), 2469-2481. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2004.tb01987.x
4Montoya, R. M., Horton, R. S., & Kirchner, J. (2008). Is actual similarity necessary for attraction? A meta-analysis of actual and perceived similarity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(6), 889-922. doi:10.1177/0265407508096700
5Reid, C. A., Davis, J. L., & Green, J. D. (2013). The power of change: Interpersonal attraction as a function of attitude similarity and attitude alignment. The Journal of Social Psychology, 153(6), 700-719. doi:10.1080/00224545.2013.824404
Dr. Gary Lewandowski – Science of Relationships articles | Website
Dr. Lewandowski’s research explores the self’s role in romantic relationships focusing on attraction, relationship initiation, love, infidelity, relationship maintenance, and break-up. Recognized as one of the Princeton Review’s Top 300 Professors, he has also authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences.