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Drunk Tank Pink

And other unexpected forces that shape how we think, feel and behave

Adam Alter

Southern (US) tends to be poorer, and also prefers name Bobby. Over time, people meet many more poor Bobbys than rich Bobbys, and more rich Sanders than poor Sanders, so they start to form an association between the names and life outcomes. Then, when a recruiter considers two job applications - one from Bobby Smith and one from Sanders Smith - he will presume that Sander's parents are wealthier and better educated before he even opens the file.

People donate more often and more generously to causes that share their initials. People with K names donated about 4% to Red Cross disasters before Hurricane Katrina, but gave 10% of Katrina donations

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And people with 'easy-to-pronounce' names do better than harder ones. Guy named Fairchild will be promoted/win election/get let off crimes far more often than Mr Sangmeister.

Before American TV show Beverly Hills 90210 debuted on French TV in 1993, names Dylan, Brandon and Brenda were unknown in France. By 1995, these names had mushroomed in popularity, with Dylan becoming the sixth most popular boy's name.

Dartmouth College study where half students had a fake scar applied to their face, were then shown in a mirror what it looked like, the makeup artist applied some cream "to make sure scar stayed in place", and then taken to an interview room to interact with another student. The 'scarred' students were so anxious, convinced the other was paying unfavorable attention to the scar, that they had trouble acting normally. The twist was that the final dab of cream actually was done to remove the fake scar, so there was nothing for other person to see. Nonetheless, the anxiety was enough to completely change the interaction.

We are far more forgiving of our own minor transgressions - like not paying for a cup of coffee - than we imagine others might be. So an act that was ok in isolation becomes unacceptable when viewed from an observer's POV.

Power company got people to conserve power by adding to their bill a figure that told them how much they were using compared to their efficient neighbours, and a grade (over average, good, great) with a smiley face for good, and two smiley faces for great.

Chesterton quote: "Children are innocent, and love justice, while adults are wicked, and naturally prefer mercy." In other words, childhood has moral clarity because haven't yet realized realized complexity - shades of grey rather than black and white. A child know that stealing is wrong, so will have no trouble condemning a poor woman who steals food for a sick child.

Study on honesty - half students in room where they could see themselves in big mirror. Only 7% of these cheated on a test, whereas 71% in room with no mirror.

Asked people to predict share prices, given data that covered certain amount of time. Some data indicated a clear trend, some data quite ambiguous. Most people expect things to continue on same trend, so they preferred shares which had been steadily rising - except when the researcher was wearing a Tshirt with a Chinese yin-yan symbol. In those cases, subjects primed to the idea of 'what goes up, can come down', and invested lot less in the 'growth' stocks.

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During the Vietnam War, a combination of boredom and anxiety pushed many American soldiers to try heroin and opium. Government feared a health crisis, bc heroin dependency very hard to break. But few of the soldiers came home with a problem, because out of the tropical jungle context they didn't see themselves as druggies.

Domestic violence increases on hot days in US, and southern states more violent crime, possibly bc hotter over all. They actually have lower rates of non-violent crime on hot days. Same pattern in France, where violence rate gets worse the further south you go, but reverse is true for non-violent crimes.

Change to Daylight Saving Time has costs - 7% increase in driving accidents the next day. Research able to compare groups of school children in different states (with different Time rules) just a few miles apart, and concluded that forcing kids into an artificial time zone dropped SAT scores by 16 points.

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