When an article supposes to give outcomes of studies I tend to become more scrutinizing. Even in jest, “Tall, dark, and stable” has material for striking up good conversation. This short piece in The Economist under psychology looks at studies of human behavior or the psychological effects that unstable furniture might have on perceptions and answers to questions.
So, rather than waiting until the end, here is the question I think I am left with, can we apply our questions on perceptions to a useful endeavor like publishing on the internet and the World Wide Web, SEO, or what other companies and merchants are telling us? Are we easily influenced by marketing and what we are told? Is it a matter of our own beliefs and interests (what we like) or are our choices encouraged by social content or behavioral data?
According to this article decisions are determined by circumstances; claims this to be clear; then to whether there are implications in being given a cold drink or a warm drink, or whether your seat leans to the left or right will politically effect your voting, might make any bunch at a party spark a debate and forget about any implications their kind of drink may have. One has to wonder, if asked, would people perceive themselves as being inclined (no pun intended) to be affected by such things alone as furniture, when it comes to choosing a candidate or a partner, or that a host was giving them a cold shoulder in an icy drink, and if anyone would agree to such influences. My guess is that people’s answers could not be trusted or assumed to be accurate, simply because, if a group were all asked this question openly, the effects of peer or social observation, well you know, no one wants to look like they might be swayed so easily.
Perhaps only a scientist or highly analytical mind would give great consideration to the possibility for a positive answer. But in order to find out if any correlations are possible, an analyst would probably chose to survey their subjects in a less social way, such as in a written multiple choice quiz. At least this is what I imagine from the article about what this study did, and divided the group or groups up by the condition of the table and chairs in order to find out if wobbly furniture would affect the outcome on answers regarding potential romance partners, trustworthiness, the expectations for celebrity couples, and I guess, general questions relative to the stability of relationships.
Doesn’t this bring back memories of, say, SAT testing and classroom furniture? I mean think of all those students, all those distractions, hormones, gender insecurities, and then the furniture. Those desks that wobble, or those arm chairs with the loose arm to write on. This is one thing that crossed my mind; to what extent is it likely; that if you are given a survey or poll, we all love those surveys over the phone just before dinner, if you have to sit and do it in a chair that rocks and at a table that dips, that they wouldn’t add to the fun. Who would be the first to put a matchbook under the leg of the table? I don’t really mean to be poking so much fun at people doing studies because there are important discoveries made with studies.
Another deference that comes to my mind is that if the stability of the furniture affects people’s perceptions or choices, looking at my limited view of societies, what perceptions can we say we truly know, or why does it seem that some societies that are underdeveloped or less fortunate seem just as happy if not to be happier than those with more? (study in China sited in a recent post “Have the courage to use your own understanding” ¶ seven) On a more individual scale when I think of people living with un-level floors, no electricity, no running water, whose philosophy is hopeful and whose spirit is generous in spite of physical or economic difficulties, what is it that they have enabling them in this way? Family? Smaller social structures, religion or a community that shares the work, utilities, tools? I know this may seem like an over simplified perception without a clear point to be made. Comparing societies, the have and have-nots, is never simple, and psychology or state of mind often comes into the picture when looking at human behavior or human perceptions. Are people who have enough or more of everything inclined to be more fussy, complain more, are they more affected by little things? Do we expect more? Do we lose track of our ability to generate a good attitude about our life and our perceptions of others? Are we really living? What do we take in, what forms of entertainment or intellectual stimulus such as movies and reading (I’d say books but that seems to have limiting implications) do we partake in and what if any relationship is there between the presenters of these and what we do, and do we “know what we like.” I once had a poet tell me he didn’t pretend to critique art but he just knew what he liked. I had a sign and mural painter tell me that art is something to do and not talk about.
So my first questions lead to more specifically, what and why do people read? What makes people think they, as an example “. . . are not sure they understand poetry.” They don’t want the floor to creak, the chair to wiggle, a table to see-saw? Maybe it has to do with experience or enjoyment, some people like to read fantasy or mystery, some form of fiction. Do people who are not accustomed to reading poetry experiment? Does ‘a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square’ apply to anything other than geometry?
There seems to be a trend for businesses to be sending out newsletters. The intent is to engage and attract customers, especially for online business, while providing guidance they can be considered infomercials, as a way of getting new customers and clients to opt in to their services. Some thought has to be given to whether these will replace blogs and vlogs. For non profits, html emails are also used to deliver articles, raise funding, enlist subscriptions, and so much that there are several sites that specialize in providing the service of hosting and enabling your needs for well designed newsletters with images and color. One can debate the functionality of this for the expense which is reasonable and the un-subscribe link is easily placed for those that feel they have too many. Generally folks sign up for topics or for a business they like.
So there are becoming not so new marketing departments that are being reinvented, as publishers grow an online presence that in some way replace things they were doing with print media and stores not too long ago. Only very large publishers can maintain both the expense of a team managing the online marketing Web sites, blogs and newsletters, while also doing in store attractions and enticements of creating an “image” or social presence for their intellectual capital. For small and micro presses it maybe one or the other; build a ‘household name’ by doing things in the community, sponsoring events and readings in collaboration with other organizations, or investing in a Web presence of online networking and information newsletters.
A new competition base is forming with the Indie authors, authors going self publish through amazon or some other kind of print on demand or e-book provider / distribution.
So the next question: Is the old publishing culture of the “Hit” or “Award Winner,” the popular “home run hitter” still the foundation for the publishing model? Or will the innovations allowed by the Web change that, too, and find that marketing, the branding image from the ground up niching enables any product with the customer appeal? It still takes a lot of creativity and money and a lot of work to make a campaign (once the term for every drive to get the client) succeed.
I’m thinking rickety chairs and leany tables, don’t you see it, corporations trying to identify with the disenfranchised customer base, pick a niche and show your wiggley chair, tie dyed curtains and go-cart engines, as long as you have a computer, baby, here we come.