Wednesday, January 29, 2014

wouldn't it be loverly?

In Ovid's narrative poem Metamorphoses, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory and named her Galatea, then subsequently fell in love with the sculpture.

Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is a further adaptation of the same story.

In fact there's umpteen variants, if you're so geek-ily inclined.

In more modern times there's George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion.

In this adaptation - probably most famous as the musical version My Fair Lady - the working-class cockney flower-girl Eliza Doolittle* is transformed by one Professor Henry Higgins ('Enry 'Iggins), who teaches her to refine her accent and conversation and conduct herself in a manner so to integrate the manners and norms appropriate in upper-class social situations.

*Worth also noting that Audrey Hepburn's cockney accent was somewhat more believable than that other Hollywood cock-er-nee Dick Van Dyke's in Mary Poppins - until I was 27 i was under the impression he was supposed to be a migrant Dutchman on some sort of Euro chimneysweep exchange program.

Psychology has also adopted the theme, The Pygmalion effect occurs when people alter their behavior to meet situational expectations.

We mentioned the Boston cardboard cut-out cop in a previous post.
Not strictly a Pygmalion effect, more of a purist peripheral-exposure nudge.

However the introduction of lifesize cardboard cutouts of doctors and nurses in the fruit and veg section of the Salford branch of UK supermarket Morrisons appears to have contributed to a spike in sales of healthy food, according to a report in the Telegraph.

'In the first study of its kind in the UK, the lifesize images of real doctors and nurses who work in the area were positioned in the supermarket together with Let’s Shop Healthier messages inside and outside the shop.

The study by the National Obesity Forum found that over a 15-week period, volume sales of fresh fruit in the store were 20 per cent higher and in control stores, while frozen fruit sales were up by 29 per cent'.

The kicker is when the Pygmalion effect is combined with what psychologists call the Exposure effect.

As an aside, this effect is why celebrity endorsements are so popular and effective in advertising.

People tend to like things more merely because they are familiar with them.

In this example the medical professionals used in the display were, indeed, all local practitioners so would be familiar to many of the shoppers.

While the report doesn't mention any price promotions that may have been running and the cut-outs are, of course part of a the bigger 'Let's Shop Healthier' initiative, if Morrison's shopper marketing people were adopting the some of the principles of behavioural economics to help their customers make better decisions the wouldn't it be loverly?

Hat-tip and finders fee to Claire McAlpine via Twitter.

blog comments powered by Disqus