Have you ever been hanging out with one of your friends and they say something like this:
“I just love hanging out with Jenny. She makes me feel so pretty.”
“Jon never says a word! It’s like I become the talkative one when he’s around.”
Maybe you haven’t experienced the exact dialogue above with Jenny or Jon (oh wait, Jon doesn’t talk) but I’m sure you’ve had a similar exchange. Actually, I have a better example for you.
Have you ever noticed a group of 4 relatively attractive young females? Have you ever noticed that with every group of 4 relatively attractive females there is a 5th unattractive female? She’s usually either 7’0″ tall or 300 lbs and resembles an outside linebacker?
Oh, so you have noticed this? Great! Did you know she’s there for a reason?
My objective is not to offend, but rather bring up an interesting psychological phenomenon. In the above paragraph, there is one word that is more important than all the others. What is it? Do ya give up? It’s sandwiched in between the 4 and attractive. That’s right – relatively. Such a small word with significant impact.
The Theory of Relativity
Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton have covered everything there is to cover when it comes to relativity so I’m going to see if I can come at it from a different angle. An angle that requires less Physics and more Economics.
Our minds are terrible at judging value. A few months ago I asked the important question of How Do You Judge Value? It’s quite difficult for us. Unless we see something matched up to something else, it’s hard for us to put a price on it. Rather than looking at something and coming up with a number, we’re much better at comparing two items and pointing out that which is superior.
Marketers know this. When you go into a store, you are at the mercy of the marketers. You may not realize it, but they have your mind figured out. They can predict what you’ll do better than you can.
Let’s say you are shopping for a TV. On the display at Best Buy, there are two TV’s set beside each other.
Samsung – 42″ – $800
Panasonic – 46″- $900
When given the selection above, our minds don’t know how to process the information. Is the extra 4 inches worth $100? Who knows! I would expect the sales in the above selection to be about 50-50. Those that want the larger TV will buy the Panasonic and those that don’t want to spend as much will lean towards the Samsung.
Let’s say you are still shopping for a TV but Best Buy has introduced a third product to the mix.
Samsung – 42″ – $800
Panasonic – 46″ – $900
Samsung – 46″ – $1050
Now that another Samsung is available to compare OR another 46 incher, we are able to conclude that the Samsung 46″ is clearly the best TV. Right? The majority of consumers would lean towards this purchase. Studies have actually shown 3 out of 4.
The Dating Game
Maybe you don’t believe you fall victim to the “relative” influence, but I’m out to prove that you do. Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely was out to prove the same with a bunch of MIT students. He went around campus taking pictures of attractive students (I promise it’s not as creepy as it sounds). Once he found whom he thought (and others voted) were the two most attractive students, he began experimenting. Dan would show students a picture of “Hot Guy 1″ and a picture of “Hot Guy 2″ and ask who students would rather date. The results were roughly 50-50 when doing so.But then Dan digitally altered a picture of both men.
Now Dan would show students a picture of “Hot Guy 1″ “Hot Guy 2″ and “Not-As Hot Guy 1″ or “Not-As Hot Guy 2.” Whenever Dan would introduce a third choice, 75% of the time students selected the Hot Guy that resembled the distorted photo. It happened because people were able to see that obviously “Hot Guy 1″ is better than “Not-As Hot Guy 1″ therefore he must also be better than “Hot Guy 2.”
Although Dan didn’t actually refer to his subjects as Hot Guys 1 & 2, the experiment was interesting nonetheless.
How Can We Use This To Pick Up Chicks?
It’s rather easy. If you are single and you want to gain more attention at a bar, simply mimic the experiment above. All you have to do is find a lesser attractive version of yourself. If you want to appear better looking to the girls across the way, find a wingman with a similar hair cut and similar height but with slightly crooked teeth. If you want to seem irresistibly witty to a girl at dinner, simply invite one of your dry and dull counterparts.
Just do me a favor: if you’re using your best friend as the “decoy,” don’t tell your best friend you’re using them as the decoy. They probably won’t be your best friend any longer.
Readers: Have you ever noticed this tactic when shopping – be it for TV’s or ladies?