guardian.co.uk, Saturday November 15 2008 00.01 GMT
The Guardian, Saturday November 15 2008
We're all suckers for a big number, and you'll be delighted to hear that the Journal of Consumer Research has huge teams of scientists eagerly writing up their sinister research on how to exploit us.
One excellent study this month (DOI: 10.1086/593947) looked at how people choose a camera. The researchers took a single image and made two copies: one where the colours were more vivid, and one where the image was sharper. They told participants each image came from a different camera, and asked which they wanted to buy. A quarter chose the one with the more colourful image.
Then researchers piled it on. They said the other camera had more pixels, using a figure derived from the diagonal width of the sensor. Suddenly more than half picked this camera. Then they told them the other camera had more pixels, but this time they used the number of pixels as evidence: a figure measured in millions. Suddenly, three quarters chose the supposedly better camera.
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