Research suggest wearing a Superman t-shirt will make you feel you are more likable and superior to everyone else. Just like Sloth.
Sloth is a bit of an under-appreciated ugly from The Goonies. He spends most of the movie either chained up in a dungeon, or he is hanging with his new BFF Chunk as they try to catch up to the main cast of characters who get to have all the fun solving pirate clues and getting shot at by criminals (who also happen to be his abusive family).
When he finally does catch up to everyone else, he rips off some of his clothing to reveal he has been wearing a Superman shirt the whole time, and subsequently ends the movie by solving everyone’s problems for them by beating the crap out of his abusive criminal gang family.
So what inspired Sloth to have the confidence to stand up to his abusive family and become a Goonie? Recent research suggests that the Superman shirt he was wearing might have had something to do with it.
Professor Karen Pine of the University of Hertfordshire (Psychology) and Istanbul Bilgi (Psychology and Fashion) gave her students some Superman t-shirts to see if it changed their perception of their own abilities. When wearing a Superman t-shirt the students rated themselves as more likeable and superior to other students. When asked to estimate how much they could physically lift, those in a Superman t-shirt thought they were stronger than students in a plain t-shirt, or in their own clothing.
This study is detailed in What You Wear Can Change Your Brain, which goes into more detail about how a change in wardrobe can have a significant impact on how you perform.
Other insights include the observation that women (but not men) did worse in a maths test when wearing a swimsuit, as compared to wearing a sweater since being sexually objectified is really distracting. Alternatively, wearing a white lab coat while conducting a test improved the mental agility of all participants.
A Superman shirt won’t make you Sloth
It should be noted that the Superman-shirt effect has some limitations.
The participants in the study only had a perception of increased likeability, superiority and additional strength to everyone else.There was no actual demonstrable performance boost.
So in the case of Sloth, he was already quite strong since he spent a lot of time breaking chains and trying to break out of the dungeon his family kept him in. Meanwhile John Matuszak (who played Sloth) was also an ex NFL player who placed 9th in the 1978 World’s Strongest Man competition, which he did without wearing a Superman shirt. On the other hand, he also died prematurely of an accidental overdose of propoxyphene (Davron), which is a prescription painkiller.
In fact, John Matuszak had a self-confessed problem with narcotics and pain killers in general – alas, wearing a Superman shirt did not help him with is addictions.
A Superman shirt won’t stop you from getting sent to jail
Sometimes drug addictions and Superman shirts combine to get people incarcerated, just like Christopher Reeves from Utah who was arrested for methamphetamine possession and driving under the influence while wearing a Superman shirt. The 33 year-old Christopher Reeves is reportedly not related to George Reeves, or Christopher Reeve, both of whom played Superman in the previous century.
If wearing a Superman shirt bestows feelings of confidence and superiority, then perhaps this is what led our Superman shirt wearing criminal to erratically weave through traffic at around 3am in the morning. Reports indicated he was “drawing the attention of deputies” in his driving, though presumably the extensive supply of methamphetamines, synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia also found in his car after being arrested also drew their attention.
A Super Conclusion
If you need a confidence boost, wear a Superman t-shirt. Just don’t assume the shirt will actually give you any extra strength that you don’t already have. If you are under the influence of drugs, it is better to put your Superman shirt away and stay off the road.