A random sampling of the stupid.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In a controlled, unrealistic setting, people behave differently

The Sydney Morning Herald had an interesting story a few days ago. Everybody knows that thin models are the way to sell things. But apparently, empirical evidence disagrees:

Phillippa Diedrichs created a series of mock ads, using regular models - typically size eight - and so-called "plus size" models, about size 12. She then presented three ads - for a hair-care product, a party dress and underwear - to 400 young people. She found there was no difference between their responses, with those who viewed the larger models reporting themselves just as interested in buying the goods as those who were presented with the skinnier women.
Got that? People rated themselves as no more likely to buy something? Well I guess that settles that.

Anybody who's ever had to study people knows that what they say they're going to do is different than what they actually do. The Bradley Effect is one example, Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point also documents a case where showing people the effects of rabies made them say they were more likely to go to the health center to get a shot, but not more likely to actually do it.

The idea behind the experiment is a good one, but it would have to be structured in such a way as to see whether test subjects actually would spend money on the products. This is a faulty experiment from the get-go.

Error rating: 2. Hearts in the right place, but come on now. This is just a rookie mistake.


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