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The Layered Look- How Many Sweatshirts Does It Take?Clothing plays a necessary role in exhibition of personal style, concealment of body parts that are deemed unacceptable to exhibit by cultural norms, and protection from adverse weather (Flügel, 1930). But anyone who has worn a heavy parka knows that there is a seeming loss of motion that comes with bulky or layered apparel. Does wearing bulky clothing actually change the way we perceive our bodies and our movement capabilities? Previous studies suggest that tools such as a reaching wand are incorporated into the body schema, the cognitive representation of one’s own body. These changes to the body schema likely influence affordance judgments, or perceived potential to act in an environment (Creem, et al. 2014). In a series of experiments, we intend to determine whether clothing changes the body schema by assessing the effect of clothing on perceived affordances in reaching tasks. Participants will wear a varying (and random) number of sweatshirts, look at an arbitrary scale on the wall, and verbally make an affordance judgment about the height to which they can reach, given their perceived body capabilities. These affordance judgments will be followed by actual reaching tasks. We predict that there will be a systematic underestimation of reachability with the application of the additional layers of clothing. As burdening or encumbering objects are added to the body schema, affordance judgments will become more conservative, despite actual action capabilities remaining largely unchanged with additional layers of clothing.

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Honors Thesis

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Benjamin R Kunz

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Stander Symposium poster


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