Ivory Towers The psychology of Hoggs and hats and half-naked women.

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Douglas Hogg has recently come in for criticism as much for his taste in hats as his handling of the beef crisis. But are his critics up to date with recent findings in hat psychology?

"Perceived police authority as a function of uniform hat and sex," (by JM Volpp and J Sharron; Perceptual & Motor Skills 1988) investigated what effects headgear have on the perceived authority of male and female police officers in Indiana. The results showed that "police officers wearing any of eight hats were seen as having more authority than officers without hats." Which type of police hat they wore made little difference, though hats generally had a far stronger influence on the perception of female officers' authority than that of males. But why should some policewomen put hats on while others leave them off?

For some light on that question, we must turn to: "Effects of time of day on dressing behaviour under the influence of ambient temperature fall from 30C to 15C" (by HE Kim and H Tokura; Physiology & Behavior 1994). "Seven half-naked female subjects," the researchers explain, "were instructed to dress in the garments in which they felt most comfortable when the room temperature began to drop from 30C to 15C in one hour." The results (which included measurement of subjects' rectal temperatures and skin temperatures at seven other sites) showed that subjects without a hat dressed faster, with thicker, heavier clothing than those with a hat. So it would appear that leaving your hat off could help a policewoman dress warmer and more quickly, especially in the morning when subjects dressed more quickly whether hatless or not.

Fortunately for their authority, hats definitely seem to be coming back into fashion, at least among fashion models, as reported in "Trends and tans and skin protection in Australian fashion magazines, 1982 through 1991" (by S Chapman, R Marks and M King; American Journal of Public Health, 1992). The researchers rated 3971 magazine photographs from 1982 to 1991 for tan depth, protective clothing and shady setting. "Except for 1990- 91, tans became lighter over the years; men tended to have darker tans, and models wore hats more often." Out of the shade 17 per cent of women and five per cent of men wore hats.

Finally, we can tell you where the models probably came from if their hats were baseball caps worn backwards. According to "Wearing baseball- type caps: An informal look" (by J Trinkaus; Psychological Reports, 1994) about 40 per cent of baseball cap wearers in a downtown or inner-city area point the peak to the rear compared with only 10 per cent in the outer boroughs.