Fashion and Science – The "Matchy Equation"
Here’s a perfect Friday post for you, featuring science on a lighter topic. Credit to Slate.com and author Alina Simone.
A woman breezes ahead of you on an airport walkway looking like a page out of Vogue. What is it about her, you wonder as you drag your squeaking roller-bag with a hoodie tied around your waist, that makes her so exquisitely fashionable? The classic cut of her blazer? The Mandarin collar on her silk shirt? That vented trench coat with welt pockets? Well, that certain je ne sais quoi has now been sewed up by science. Specifically:
Fashionableness = -.50m2 + .62m + .49 where m = matching z-score.
Or put another way: Don’t be too matchy-matchy.
That’s the conclusion a team of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Gray arrived at after conducting a pioneering study of the sad question confronting the sartorially challenged each morning: What exactly makes an outfit fashionable? Of course, we perceive clothing as chic for many reasons, not the least of which has to do with whatever Maisie Williams or Ryan Gosling wore to the Best People on Earth Awards. But Gray and his team hypothesized that there must be some pattern underlying our aesthetic preferences.
To read the rest of this article about CAH member Nina Strohminger’s new work click here.
Attention Predictably Irrational Fashionistas!
NYT Year In Ideas
The New York Times Magazine publishes once a year the “years in ideas.”
This is the third year in a row that they are picking one of my papers, which is very nice of them.
It is also particularity nice of them that this year they picked two papers I am a part of.
One of the papers they picked this year is: The Counterfeit Self
Her is their report:
Wearing imitation designer clothing or accessories can fool others — but no matter how convincing the knockoff, you never, of course, fool yourself. It’s a small but undeniable act of duplicity. Which led a trio of researchers to suspect that wearing counterfeits might quietly take a psychological toll on the wearer.
To test their hunch, the psychologists Francesca Gino, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely asked two groups of young women to wear sunglasses taken from a box labeled either “authentic” or “counterfeit.” (In truth, all the eyewear was authentic, donated by a brand-name designer interested in curtailing counterfeiting.) Then the researchers put the participants in situations in which it was both easy and tempting to cheat.
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 — under heavy time pressure.
Afterward, given ample time to check their work, they reported how many problems they were able to answer correctly. They had been told they’d be paid for each answer they reported getting right, thus creating an incentive to inflate their scores. Unbeknown to the participants, the researchers knew each person’s actual score. 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.
Why did this happen? As Gino puts it, “When one feels like a fake, he or she is likely to behave like a fake.” It was notable that the participants were oblivious to this and other similar effects the researchers discovered: the psychological costs of cheap knockoffs are hidden. The study is currently in press at the journal Psychological Science.
Could other types of fakery also lead to ethical lapses? “It’s a fascinating research question,” says Gino, who studies organizational behavior at the University of North Carolina. “There are lots of situations on the job where we’re not true to ourselves, and we might not realize there might be unintended consequences.”
The second paper they picked this year is: The Drunken Ultimatum
Her is their report:
The so-called ultimatum game contains a world of psychological and economic mysteries. In a laboratory setting, one person is given an allotment of money (say, $100) and instructed to offer a second person a portion. If the second player says yes to the offer, both keep the cash. If the second player says no, both walk away with nothing.
The rational move in any single game is for the second person to take whatever is offered. (It’s more than he came in with.) But in fact, most people reject offers of less than 30 percent of the total, punishing offers they perceive as unfair. Why?
The academic debate boils down to two competing explanations. On one hand, players might be strategically suppressing their self-interest, turning down cash now in the hope that if there are future games, the “proposer” will make better offers. On the other hand, players might simply be lashing out in anger.
The researchers Carey Morewedge and Tamar Krishnamurti, of Carnegie Mellon University, and Dan Ariely, of Duke, recently tested the competing explanations — by exploring how drunken people played the game.
As described in a working paper now under peer review, Morewedge and Krishnamurti took a “data truck” to a strip of bars on the South Side of Pittsburgh (where participants were “often at a level of intoxication that is greater than is ethical to induce”) and also did controlled testing, in labs, of people randomly selected to get drunk.
The scholars were interested in drunkenness because intoxication, as other social-science experiments have shown, doesn’t fuzz up judgment so much as cause the drinker to overly focus on the most prominent cue in his environment. If the long-term-strategy hypothesis were true, drunken players would be more inclined to accept any amount of cash. (Money on the table generates more-visceral responses than long-term goals do.) If the anger/revenge theory were true, however, drunken players would become less likely to accept low offers: raw anger would trump money-lust.
In both setups, drunken players were less likely than their sober peers to accept offers of less than 50 percent of the total. The finding suggests, the authors said, that the principal impulse driving subjects was a wish for revenge.
Lets see if this trend continues….