Does what you wear and how you look impact your customer’s perception of your credibility? (Spoiler: It shouldn’t but it does). Do you care what your doctor wears? I asked this question on LinkedIn yesterday. A bunch of folks said, “No, I don’t care as long as they’re competent, they get me better, and they actually display some compassion, then I don’t care what they wear”.
I believe those people believe what they’re saying and it makes sense. That sounds like the sort of thing we think we should say.
A study out of the University of Michigan
found that you can say what you like but our perception of our medical providers is actually impacted by what they wear. I should probably stress at this point that I’m talking about normal times obviously. Right now during a pandemic we are very keen for them to be fully kitted out in PPE – the gowns, the masks, that gloves, the whole shebang. But, in general terms, just bowling along to your local GP or medical center, does it matter if they show up wearing a suit and tie, white coat stethoscope around the neck, the sort of things we might expect if we asked a child to draw a doctor.
Well, the research found that it does depend. Older folk we’re actually more concerned that their doctors should look like that they expect them to look – the full kit, whereas younger people not so much. These are sweeping generalizations. It depends on a bunch of factors. It also matters. Regardless of what my LinkedIn folks said they thought they thought, much of our actual behaviour is driven by unconscious bias. People who perceived their advisors as more credible were much more likely to follow their advice or do their homework. Which, with doctors is massively important. Try googling to see what percentage of post-op patients actually follow their meds, behaviour-change advice, etc. It’s horrifyingly low.
I was working with some medical folks the other day and they were wondering about this topic of appearance credibility because this is a debate they have going on.
So, don’t let one-size-fits-all and this is true of not only what you wear but how you act.