Francis Vierboom's Blog

A blog about things. Mostly news, ideas, and Sydney


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One of the many fascinating results in the great New York Times Magazine’s Year in Ideas 2009: a study on the psychological toll of being issued with ‘real’ or ‘fake’ sunglasses:

In one situation, which was ostensibly part of a product evaluation, the women wore the shades while answering a set of very simple math problems… They had been told they’d be paid for each answer they reported getting right, thus creating an incentive to inflate their scores… Math performance was the same for the two groups — but whereas 30 percent of those in the “authentic” condition inflated their scores, a whopping 71 percent of the counterfeit-wearing participants did so.

I always find it fascinating just how susceptible the human character is to such ‘external’ effects. This strikes me as an extension of the ‘act as if’ idea (which could also be called the ‘Mean Girls’ effect) – the idea that you can alter traits in your personality or lifestyle simply by ‘pretending’ for some period of time, whether you mean to or not. I put a lot of stock in it myself, because I actually think I have done it myself a lot. I guess I should start acting as if I am someone who blogs all the time.

Written by Francis

December 14, 2009 at 8:01 pm

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