The FREAKest Links: From Arm Touches Straight to Three-Carat Pacifiers Edition

Nicolas Gueguen, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Bretagne-Sud, performed a study in which his male research assistants approached 240 women in the street and asked for their phone numbers. Half of the women were asked the question accompanied by a light touch on the arm; the other half received no physical contact. Of those touched, 19% gave a phone number; only 10% of the non-touched said yes.

Courtesy of Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer: Forbes.com profiles the newest trends in ultra-expensive baby gear, including a pacifier made of gold and three carats worth of pave-cut white diamonds. Better hope you don’t have twins: it costs $17,000.

On the subject of babies: University of Wisconsin political science professor and blogger Charles H. Franklin has tracked the number of girls named “Monica” born each year since 1970, finding that the name was on a downswing until a certain scandal became public in 1998, after which it tanked. As we’ve discussed, “Katrina” namings went in the opposite direction in some states after the hurricane — an indicator, perhaps, that people are more willing to name their baby after a natural disaster than a man-made one. (Hat tip: B. Cline.)

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COMMENTS: 18


  1. rlmthree says:

    “Friends” ran from ’94-’01, I believe, with a prominent character named Monica, as well as ’99 seeing the debut of Lou Bega’s “Mambo #5″ with its own “little bit of Monica”.

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  2. rlmthree says:

    “Friends” ran from ’94-’01, I believe, with a prominent character named Monica, as well as ’99 seeing the debut of Lou Bega’s “Mambo #5″ with its own “little bit of Monica”.

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  3. gpburdell says:

    look at http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html for any and all names you can think of.

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  4. gpburdell says:

    look at http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html for any and all names you can think of.

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  5. Isaac says:

    The touch study is hardly double-blind. The researchers could easily have been projecting more optimism when they went in for the touch.

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  6. Isaac says:

    The touch study is hardly double-blind. The researchers could easily have been projecting more optimism when they went in for the touch.

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  7. lermit says:

    It’s like that southern joke, “why would I show you any mercy when you tried to get me raped and my boy shot”. Now you are concerned.

    There. My mom’s real name is Myrna.

    .lermit (unrelated to leadership statistics)

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  8. lermit says:

    It’s like that southern joke, “why would I show you any mercy when you tried to get me raped and my boy shot”. Now you are concerned.

    There. My mom’s real name is Myrna.

    .lermit (unrelated to leadership statistics)

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  9. lermit says:

    I lied. It’s her maiden name.

    .lermit

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  10. lermit says:

    I lied. It’s her maiden name.

    .lermit

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  11. prosa says:

    This study was conducted in France, and Guegen cautioned the findings might not translate to other cultures. “It is possible that in a non-contact culture, the effect of touch in a courtship relation would be perceived negatively by women,” he said.

    Translation: if the researchers tried that in the United States they’d be hauled off to jail.

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  12. prosa says:

    This study was conducted in France, and Guegen cautioned the findings might not translate to other cultures. “It is possible that in a non-contact culture, the effect of touch in a courtship relation would be perceived negatively by women,” he said.

    Translation: if the researchers tried that in the United States they’d be hauled off to jail.

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  13. Davey says:

    prosa, no in the US they’d probably get punched. In Saudi Arabia they’d get hauled off to jail.

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  14. Davey says:

    prosa, no in the US they’d probably get punched. In Saudi Arabia they’d get hauled off to jail.

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  15. Chicago79 says:

    With a 65 to 43 % difference and only 60 respondents, this means about 13 more women responded positively, a difference easily accounted for by a variety of factors, especially confidence from the researcher. Additionally, no data are given regarding the frequency of the positives (i.e. did they appear disproportionately as time went on). All in all, barely enough of a sucess to warrant the always popular “more research is needed” proclamation, let alone enough to warrant a coveted spot on the Freakonomics website. Shoddy research deserves shoddy coverage.

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  16. Chicago79 says:

    With a 65 to 43 % difference and only 60 respondents, this means about 13 more women responded positively, a difference easily accounted for by a variety of factors, especially confidence from the researcher. Additionally, no data are given regarding the frequency of the positives (i.e. did they appear disproportionately as time went on). All in all, barely enough of a sucess to warrant the always popular “more research is needed” proclamation, let alone enough to warrant a coveted spot on the Freakonomics website. Shoddy research deserves shoddy coverage.

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  17. Beatniknight says:

    I’d be interested to know how many of these women gave the researcher their actual phone number. It’s quite possible that a touch on the arm has the opposite effect, that it caused the women to think the researcher was a threatening figure whom they didn’t feel comfortable outright rejecting. Maybe he actually got less VALID phone numbers.

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  18. Beatniknight says:

    I’d be interested to know how many of these women gave the researcher their actual phone number. It’s quite possible that a touch on the arm has the opposite effect, that it caused the women to think the researcher was a threatening figure whom they didn’t feel comfortable outright rejecting. Maybe he actually got less VALID phone numbers.

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