Thursday, July 05, 2012

Jealousy causes vengeance. What did you expect?

Fantastic interview on Radio Boston of David Disteno at Northeastern University – who coincidentally just published a new book.  His research is on what makes us jealous and what we do about it.  The interview covers a lot of his work, so I will pick out one piece and give you the links to the book and the podcast if you want more. 

One study involves getting unsuspecting volunteers to interact with very attractive confederates who are posing as other volunteers.  After working together for a few minutes answering trivia questions a third person comes in.  The attractive volunteer chooses to work with this “intruder” on the next part of the activity.  Later, the spurned volunteer has to decide how much hot pepper to put in a sauce for a “blind taste test” for the other volunteer - the supposed purpose of the study.  The way the study is put together is really devious.  The results are just what you would think.  Both male and female volunteers got back at their partner by putting a lot of extra hot pepper in the sauce.  I am probably not doing justice to the study in this short post.  I really recommend reading or listening to the whole thing.

Innovation of the Day

I read about a company in Wisconsin that invented a urinal cake with a sensor for alcohol.  If the “user” is over the legal limit to drive (I am guessing with just an approximate accuracy) it plays an audio message not to drink and drive. 

This seems like a good idea for several user experience reasons. 
  • It is incredibly simple for the user to understand. 
  • The message is delivered at just the time when you need it (people often use the restroom just before leaving the bar). 
  • Since the police can use a urine test, it is hard for our motivated reasoning instinct to dispute. Even if the urinal cake is wrong, the police would be wrong too. 
The business model also has a lot going for it.  Car crashes are incredibly expensive.   The driver and his/her insurance, the person/car/property that gets hit, the city or town because of the traffic jam and police investigation costs – and I am sure lots of others I am missing.  So the town buys them and offers them to the popular bars as a public service. The bars get free deoderizers.