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Rajan Sambandam

Babyface CEOs - Good or Bad?

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Do you form judgments of others based on how they look? Very likely. These judgments are not just about commonly understood features such as skin color, but also about more subtle ones like the shape of a person's face. Research has shown that babyfaced people are seen as kinder, warmer and physically weaker than maturefaced people, as well as more honest and naive. Given this, are there consequences for a company that has a babyface CEO (or spokesperson) in a time of crisis? Will the shape of the person's face affect how the company is perceived and will these considerations have an effect on the hiring of a new CEO? These questions were investigated by some researchers in a series of experiments.

More or Less?

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam
Let's say you are a cell phone manufacturer and you have to make a decision about a new phone. Your clever engineers have developed several new features that could make your phone much more distinctive in the market. What do you do? Do you put as many features as you can into one phone, or do you introduce several phones, each with a different set of features? Researchers at the University of Maryland asked this question and conducted a series of experiments to answer it.  Surprisingly, their conclusion is that having a larger number of specialized products would be better in the long run.

What's in a Name (or Initial)?

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Do names have an impact on performance? How about initials? Would major league baseball players with the initial K strikeout more than others? Would people with intials C or D perform worse in class? Are people with white or black sounding names likely to be more or less successful in life? Interesting research has been done in both the areas of initials and names and the results are seemingly contradictory.

Insighter: Dallas Abbott

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Asteroids are space objects and sometimes they hit earth. Depending on their size they can cause great damage. Small asteroids can burn up when they enter the atmosphere. Larger ones can hit earth and cause damage directly and indirectly. The most popular reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago is asteroid strikes and the resulting global climactic changes. Okay, nothing new so far. Everyone can agree that asteroid strikes can have no to devastating impact. The next question is how likely are such impacts? To understand how frequently asteroids have struck earth in the past the traditional research method is to look for craters. Using this method scientists have estimated that large strikes happen about once in a million years or so. Then geophysicist Dallas Abbott began wondering if that kind of calculation made sense. Since about seventy percent of the earth is covered with water, wouldn't it make sense that most asteroid strikes are likely to have been in water than land. If so isn't it likely we have been underestimating the number of asteroid strikes on earth?

In a series of classic studies done in the 1960's, the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget showed how children can misperceive volume. When colored liquid was poured from a taller cylinder to a shorter wider cylinder, they thought the volume of liquid had decreased. These primary school children were using only the height of the container when making volume judgments and were hence making mistakes. Ah, you say, they are children and are naive enough not to understand that more than height goes into determining the volume of liquid in a container. Full grown adults would never make that mistake. Why, if such height based illusions existed, wouldn't restaurants routinely use tall thin glasses to pour your drinks, rather than short wide glasses? Well. 

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