It turns out that the thrill really is in the chase. Scientists have shown that it’s about the journey, not the destination. I wonder what clichés they’ll investigate next?
Some men seem to only get a sense of fulfillment from the effort they put in to the task, research has found.
When a group of men was shown a clear photo of a woman compared with a blurry one, some admitted to being more attracted to the slightly blurry photo, as this made the woman appear less attainable.
But it is not the case for everyone: those who had such a reaction were self-confessed ‘smooth talkers’, compared with the ‘shy gawkers’ who preferred the clear image.
Dr Aparna Labroo, Associate Professor of Marketing along with colleague Sarah Kim, from the University of Chicago, carried out the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Dr Labroo said: ‘To get the best outcomes or products, people usually have to expend effort. This relationship between effort and value is so closely associated in a consumer’s mind that wanting the best outcomes automatically results in increased preference for any outcome associated with effort, even pointless effort.’
They carried out a series of studies to try and evaluate why people think the extra effort is worth it.
In one study, the authors had heterosexual males classify themselves as either ‘shy gawkers’ or ‘smooth talkers’.
Participants were presented with a picture of a potential date that was either clear or blurred slightly (by 15 percent).
Sarah Kim said: ‘The shy gawkers behaved as one might expect, evaluating the date more favourably when they viewed the clear rather than the blurry picture. Quite surprisingly, however, the smooth talkers found the date more attractive when the picture was slightly blurry rather than clear.’
The authors found similar results with participants who classified themselves as ‘smart shoppers’. They indicated higher preferences for products when they had to travel across town to get them, even when they were available in a nearby shop.
They also preferred products that appeared to be pushed back on the shelves.
The authors even found that people who thought of themselves as ‘pioneers’ rather than ‘followers’ made more donations to a charity box when they had to stretch slightly, four feet, to make a contribution.
However, when the researchers directed people’s attention to the pointless nature of their efforts, they no longer valued the outcomes associated with the pointless effort.
Dr Labroo concluded: ‘So the next time you find yourself chasing that hottie, or you find yourself reaching to get a product way back on a shelf, pause for a moment and consider whether the outcome is really worth your effort.’
But sometimes pointless effort is more about enjoying the moment and the anticipation of the reward to come – both important elements of happiness.
Written by Charles Walford, this article originally appeared in the Daily Mail