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By Steven G. Mehta

I saw an article that was fascinating regarding why people buy more than others. I thought you would be interested.

Why are some people more likely than others to wait in line overnight to buy a just-released book or to queue up for the new iPad? “The tendency to act quickly to acquire items such as those above is related to the first letter of one’s childhood surname,” write authors Kurt A. Carlson (Georgetown University) and Jacqueline M. Conard (Belmont University).

The authors studied how quickly adults responded to opportunities to acquire items of value to them. They found that the later in the alphabet people’s childhood surnames were, the faster those consumers responded to purchase opportunities. The “last-name effect” occurred when the items were real (basketball tickets, cash, and wine) or hypothetical (sale on a backpack).

The effect occurred only with childhood surnames, not names that had changed due to marriage. Children with last names that fall late in the alphabet are often at the end of lines or at the back of the class. “The idea holds that children develop time-dependent responses based on the treatment they receive,” the authors explain. “In an effort to account for these inequities, children late in the alphabet will move quickly when last name isn’t a factor; they will ‘buy early.’ Likewise, those with last names early in the alphabet will be so accustomed to being first that that individual opportunities to make a purchase won’t matter very much; they will ‘buy late.'”

“The last-name effect is especially important to retailers and salespeople because customer names are easy for marketers to obtain and because there are many decisions in which the decision is not whether to buy, but when to buy,” the authors write.

Whether it’s shopping at a clearance sale, choosing a seat to hear live music, or shopping for produce at a farmers’ market, late alphabet consumers want to make sure they’re the first in line.
Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

To read the article, click Science Daily

I am still thinking how this affects mediation.  I know it will, but I wanted to share first.  If you have any ideas, let me know.

By Steven G. Mehta

In Los Angeles, the courts have been using the “one day, one trial” system for quite a while.  As part of that system, the pool of jurors has increased dramatically.  Before that system was enacted many professionals such as architects, lawyers, accountants, and doctors avoided jury service because of some claim of exigent circumstances.  No more with the one day one trial system.

However, with such greater diversity comes different issues when people from a higher socio-economic class become members of a jury.  One recent study found that although higher socio-economic class people have many economic and educational opportunities, they may be worse at reading the emotions of others.

The new study published in Psychological Science finds that lower socio-economic class people are better at reading the emotions of others.

The researchers theorized that for lower socio-economic class people, they must rely more on other individuals because they cannot afford to buy the service or good, and therefore, they must develop people assessment skills for survival.  For example, if you can’t afford to buy daycare service for your children, you have to rely on your neighbors or relatives to watch the kids while you attend classes or run errands, says Michael W. Kraus of the University of California-San Francisco.

Over the course of several studies involving computer images and job interviews, the research consistently revealed that people with more education performed worse on the task of determining people’s emotions and mental state than people with less education.

These results suggest that people of upper-class status aren’t very good at recognizing the emotions other people are feeling. The researchers speculate that this is because they can solve their problems, like the daycare example, without relying on others — they aren’t as dependent on the people around them.

Interestingly, the researchers conducted a final experiment where subjects were made to feel that they were at a lower social class than they actually were.  In that circumstance, the people got better at reading emotions. “It’s the cultural context leading to these differences,” says Kraus.   He says this work helps show that stereotypes about the classes are wrong. “It’s not that a lower-class person, no matter what, is going to be less intelligent than an upper-class person. It’s all about the social context the person lives in, and the specific challenges the person faces. If you can shift the context even temporarily, social class differences in any number of behaviors can be eliminated.”

This research is interesting for several reasons.  First, attorneys are among the highest educated attaining at least 7 years of college and graduate education.  Often attorneys are making judgments about the credibility of witnesses and parties.  It is helpful to recognize that as attorneys – because of their socio-economic class, that they may not be as good as they think they are in judging the mental state of others.

Second, it is interesting to note that many people believe that the higher socio-economic factors lead to more conservative jurors.  It could be possible that those jurors are more conservative in their decisions because they are not as effective as reading the emotions of the parties and witnesses and therefore err on the side of being conservative in their decisions.

Finally, all is not lost.  According to the research, the ability to read people can be learned. There is much literature on how to read people, how to read non-verbal gestures, and other such items.

Research Source:

M. W. Kraus, S. Cote, D. Keltner. Social Class, Contextualism, and Empathic AccuracyPsychological Science, 2010; 21 (11): 1716 DOI:10.1177/0956797610387613

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