This very interesting argument proposed by authors, that wearing wristwatches is associated with higher conscientiousness and punctuality, could be further elaborated in the context of ‘enclothed cognition’. Adam & Galinsky (2012) used term ‘enclothed cognition’ to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. For instance, Adam & Galinsky (2012) showed that wearing a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat, and compared to simply seeing or even identifying with a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat. They argued that ‘enclothed cognition’ depends on both the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothes.
Its plausible to consider watches are a part of clothing - an accessory that may be a form of a fashion statement or an expression of social status (as pointed by authors in the Discussion). Therefore ‘enclothed cognition’ could add to a possibility that simply wearing a watch has some level of continuous, implicit, and cognitive impact on the wearers (like making people more conscientious, punctual or even healthier).
Going a (bit philosophical) step further, an idea that watch extends some subtle aspects of everyday psychological functioning is in line with Marshall McLuhan (1967) notion of the ‘extended mind’. McLuhan (1967) concept has been increasingly used to examine psychological impact of various technological solutions. For instance, in a recent study Barr et al. (2015) showed that those who think more intuitively and less analytically when given reasoning problems were more likely to rely on their Smartphones (i.e., extended mind) for information in their everyday lives. While the watch is a much simpler technological extension of mind, it works perfect as an instant access point to the current time. From the perspective of persuasive technology (Fogg, 2009), such simplicity behind watch design is probably the key to its effortless blending into the wearers everyday life. Which adds to the reason why a countless manufacturers of new-breed digital wearable smartwatches are trying to capitalise on this specific form factor.
Adam, H., & Galinsky, A. D. (2012). Enclothed cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(4), 918–925.
Barr, N., Pennycook, G., Stolz, J. a., & Fugelsang, J. a. (2015). The brain in your pocket: Evidence that Smartphones are used to supplant thinking. Computers in Human Behavior, 48, 473–480.
McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q. (1967). The Medium is the Massage. London: Penguin Group.
Fogg, B. J. (2009). A behavior model for persuasive design. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Persuasive Technology - Persuasive ’09. New York: ACM Press.