Once again, The Economist reported on another quirky study. In an article entitled “Tall dark and stable” in the psychology section of its July 14, 2012 edition, the author discusses how “wobbly furniture leads to a desire for emotional stability.”
Evidently, previous studies have shown that if one is given an icy drink at a party, that person will perceive that she is getting the cold shoulder from the other party goers. Similarly, giving a person a warm drink leads her to perceive a sense of warmth. Of greater interest, especially in this election year, are studies showing that if potential voters are sitting in chairs leaning slightly to the left, they, somehow, become more amenable to “liberal” or left leaning viewpoints!
The most recent study, which is the topic of this article, has to do with the effect of furniture on a person’s perceptions. David Kille, Amanda Forest and Joanne Wood at the University of Waterloo in Canada, had one-half of their volunteers sit in a slightly wobbly chair next to a slightly wobbly table while performing some task. The other one-half of the volunteers sat in non-wobbly chairs next to stable tables.
Those sitting in the wobbly chairs were then asked to judge the stability of the relationships of several celebrities, including President and Mrs. Obama, David and Victoria Beckham, Jay-Z and Beyonce and Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. Using a scale of one to seven, the volunteers rated how likely the couple would break up within the next five years, in which “1” meant “extremely unlikely to dissolve”.
The researchers found that tinkering with the stability of the furniture effected the volunteer’s perception of stability:
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