On Conformity

Here is Dan Ariely’s response to one employee’s question on wearing suits to work.

Dear Dan,

I recently started working at a company that requires employees to wear suits, and I find them uncomfortable. Can you help me understand the logic for wearing them?


In my mind, suits represent everything wrong with modern society. They’re basically an expensive school uniform. The lack of choice does make suit purchases easier, and since people wearing suits look more or less the same, the clothing works as a kind of leveler in looks, ensuring that no one looks more interesting or exciting.

But suits kill sartorial creativity and individuality, and as you say, they’re uncomfortable. They are a prime example of our tendency to pick the unpleasant, uncreative option as long as it’s easy and makes us all look identical. My advice to you: Rebel, and if you succeed, most of your co-workers will thank you.


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