Why You'll Never Buy the Perfect Ring (and Other Valentine's Day Stories)
Anne Bowers wanted her boyfriend to buy her a used ring. Second-hand engagement rings are hundreds or even thousands of dollars less expensive than new ones.
But when it came time for him to propose, her husband went for a new ring. He said he just couldn't buy a second-hand ring . Why?
Second-hand rings have a history. They may have been worn by someone in an unhappy relationship.
Anne Bowers, a sociologist, recently conducted a study showing that many people behave exactly like her husband. She presented people with three scenarios describing identical rings that came from different sources—a store, a happy marriage, and a divorce. She found people were much less willing to pay for engagement rings that were "tainted" by a previous owner in a failed relationship.
This wasn't a hidden bias, either. Like her husband, people knew it was irrational to pay hundreds of dollars more for a ring with identical cut, color, clarity, and carats—but they did it anyway.
This week, Shankar also chats with Morning Editions' David Greene about research showing that matchmakers are happier than the rest of us. And that it's the matchmaking that makes them happier.
Daniel Pink returns for another round of Stopwatch Science with more research on dating and mating.
Finally, we're joined by Meshelle, the indie-mom of comedy, for a game we call "Mad Scientist." Shankar tells Meshelle about a study done in France by psychologists eager to find out what makes French women swoon. They had an undercover researcher approach 300 300 women on the street and ask them for their phone number. When he approaches some women, he's carrying a guitar case. When he goes up to others, he's carrying a gym bag. Can you guess when women were more likely to give him their digits? (If you like spoilers, you can read the study here).
The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Kara McGuirk-Alison, Maggie Penman and Max Nesterak. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here. You can also f ollow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, @karamcguirk, @maggiepenman and @maxnesterak, and listen for Hidden Brain stories every week on your local public radio station.
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