Applied Psychology

Seoul Fashion Week Fall 2014: pushBUTTON

1As a student of Psychology and Marketing, one of my key interests has been the relationship between motivation and behavior, as in what motivates an individual to react and/or behave in a certain way in a given situation or to a stimulus. You know when you decide to reach for that cup of coffee on the table? While you may decide to actually grab it, someone else in the same situation may decide not to because of various reasons, say their mind is preoccupied with something else, or even if they desire a sip, they may be feeling lazy. See, we would never be able to fully figure others out unless communication took place. This difference in behavior is due to our background and trait that vary widely and naturally- therefore, once we decide to embrace our differences, the world may indeed be a peaceful place.


The reason why I begin this post with this seemingly random Psychology mumbo jumbo is because of the inspiration behind pushBUTTON’s new collection- we all know that designer Park Seung Gun is known for eccentric, bold style that’s loved by celebrities on both domestic and global levels; trendy and experimental, Park seeks to “push buttons” (both right and wrong) while keeping wearability in mind. Perhaps it was his last collection that somewhat hindered myself from having a higher expectation (in terms of Park’s scope of interest for inspiration); I mean, his last collection was about Sailor Moon, after all- this lack of anticipation had some reasonable basis, yeah? (This is not to say that I expected any less of the collection itself- note that I’m literally obsessed with his stuff.)


Well, let’s get back to psychology now- totally random, or maybe not- because guess what, surprisingly or not, psychology has a lot to do with what you wear. Think about it- when you put on that shirt and pants in the morning, it involves a thought process- whether as a part of a daily ritual or out of responsibility, you make a decision to put on something, and make another decision to choose which garment to wear. Depending on your mood and physical state, you may decide to go with something colorful, fancy, or dark and monotone. And the things you put on in the morning, often affects your emotion and even your interaction with others throughout the day, because depending on what you wear, you portray a different appearance, which can sometimes make you look friendlier than usual, or the opposite.


So now, you must be wondering why all this psychology talk when we’ve got this exciting, awesome collection from one of the hottest designers in Korea. Well, Park decided that it would be fun to design around rather a “complicated” idea for this season, which is a psychological concept coined by the Dutch Ethologist (one who studies animal behavior) and Ornithologist (one who studies birds), Nikolaas Tinbergen: Supernormal Stimuli. I don’t intend on making this an academic article or a thesis so let me make it short- so basically, Tinbergen’s claim is that humans (and animals) are wired in such a way that we are naturally more attracted to artificial versions of objects to elicit a stronger response than the original objects from which the artificial versions came from. In short, he thinks we prefer artificially manipulated things rather than the things in natural, original state, i.e. French fries vs. Fresh potatoes, Facebook vs. Socializing with real people, Puppy dolls with unrealistically huge eyes vs. Real live puppy


As much as it sounds crazy and ridiculous, this idea offers some important implications for everyday life as it may suggest possible causes for addictive behaviors- if we can somehow alter the way we respond to Supernormal Stimuli, one should have a better control over his/her physical responses to such, hence making the unhealthy behavior more manageable. As with everything else though, it begins with being aware of the problem and having the desire to alleviate the situation.

If anything, consider it like being on a diet- when done in moderation, anything becomes much more manageable. If you know that you are more prone to submitting to Supernormal Stimuli, send signals to your brain as soon as you come across the stimulus so that you are better prepared. Well, what you are about to see from pushBUTTON is such… so brace yourselves. This is a warning. ;)

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pushBUTTON S/S 2014

Photos by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul Korea

Fear is the Enemy

I have an anxiety disorder. Call it Mysophobia, Bacteriophobia, Germaphobia, or OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), I’m just freaked out about getting myself getting into contact with bacteria or getting infected with a virus. What’s funny is that I didn’t know that this was a disorder until recently. I thought everyone was fearful of bacteria. I thought everyone washed their hands ten times a day. Since quite a number of people find it amusing that I’m such a way, I thought I’d take the time to observe and analyze my behavior for which I was able to come up with a following list:

1. I worry about germs transferring onto my pants and hair whenever I’m at a movie theatre. I think about the people who sat before me: ‘Where were they before sitting here?’, ‘Were their clothes washed? What if they were sweaty?’, ‘I wonder if they had washed their hair? What if they had lice?’, ‘What if they farted?’ (Not that I shower before going to movies, which is why this is an issue for me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite!)

2. When I go to a restaurant, I worry about the silverware being contaminated or not being washed thoroughly. I imagine the places they have been… such as in another person’s mouth… or in the dirty sink along with food wastes.

3. I cannot tolerate my hands after going grocery shopping. When I would fail to keep antibacterial wipes in the car, I can’t help but feel like my hands are rotting away. Although I can’t see anything, I can almost feel the colorful micro organisms having a picnic on my skin.

4. When I was traveling with a cast on my foot, I felt so insanitary that I made my husband drive five miles just to find a place where they were selling antibacterial wipes. Not that it’s a problem for him, it’s just that it had to be at midnight when he was dead tired just so I can wipe it couple times before going to bed.

5. It is extremely rare that you will catch me cooking chicken or pork… I can’t prepare raw meat because I’m horrified at the thought of having a contact with bacteria. If it’s prepackaged, I will do it (only if I absolutely have to)… without touching it, of course.

Honestly, I can’t think of one person who does not have some type of disorder, because the truth is that everyone’s different and unique, which is perfectly normal. Thanks to researchers and psychologists who like to place labels on everything, we now have a term for every little detail of our lives that should be embraced and respected rather than being categorized and criticized. If you are skeptical, below is an excerpt from Wikipedia’s Phobia List:

  • Ablutophobia– fear of bathing, washing, or cleaning.
  • Acrophobia, Altophobia – fear of heights.
  • Agoraphobia– fear of places or events where escape is impossible or when help is unavailable
  • Aichmophobia– fear of sharp or pointed objects (as a needle, knife or a pointing finger).
  • Algophobia– fear of pain.
  • Agyrophobia– fear of crossing roads.
  • Androphobia– fear of men.
  • Anthropophobia– fear of people or being in a company, a form of social phobia.
  • Anthophobia– fear of flowers.
  • Aquaphobia- fear of water.
  • Chorophobia- fear of dancing.
  • Decidophobia- fear of making decisions.
  • Ergophobia- fear of work
  • Halitophobia- fear of bad breath.
  • Come to think of it, I’m actually terrified of blood. I started having a really strong physical reaction to it once that the doctor had to give me a shot. Perhaps I should’ve been placed in a psychiatric hospital long ago. LOL

    My take is that you have a choice when it comes to things like this. You can either choose to overcome it or continue to avoid it. As for me, it’s gotten much better after “living” with cockroaches in New York. I learned that the most effective way to overcome a fear is to having a direct exposure to the factor causing the fear itself. In other words, when you go face to face with your greatest opponent, that’s when you will experience victory. It takes courage, but if you don’t do it, you will forever be trapped in your bubble, limiting yourself from achieving bigger things in life. As for me, I’ve decided to tackle one at a time, starting with my bacteria friends. I’m going to try to love them instead of hating on them… by… eating yogurt daily! haha.. JK. I’m going to stop imagining where things have been before. Let bygones be bygones, right? This will not only prevent me from continuously nagging the hubby to wash his hands but help me venture into more extravagant recipes involving poultry and such.

    So, what are YOU afraid of?

    List courtesy of Wikipedia, Photo credit: Google Images