Caron is one of those brands to which I had a very little exposure. So when hajusuuri decided to write about her experience with Caron boutique in New York, I started thinking about a question for this post. I entertained for a while an idea to go with the in-story question about the number of real urns vs. those in reflections but I thought that most people would get the same answer. And then I decided to expand the question beyond what could be seen on a picture. Right after I asked: “How many perfumes do you think Caron has currently in production (in all lines)?” I realized that I didn’t know the answer. I decided to take a guess. My answer was 15.
There were 22 guesses and the most popular answer was 20 (five people). Three commenters guessed 25, two – 18 and 40 and the rest of responses got one answer each.
Several months ago Sigrun (Riktig Parfym) mentioned that she was listening to some courses on Coursera. Before then I hadn’t heard about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I made a bookmark. Usually those bookmarks live in the browser and die without fulfilling their destiny with the move to the next computer. But this time I didn’t forget about it, checked it out later… and for the last couple of months I’ve been binge watching different courses – mostly unusable for me but interesting. If it weren’t for my work and some other commitments I would have been watching even more: those courses are addictive!
One of those impractical courses I took in the beginning was a course on Social Psychology. I liked it very much and went through almost all lectures: at some point it became too political so I skipped some of those. But mostly it was interesting.
One of the lectures – The Minimal Group: From Dots to Discrimination in 60 Seconds – covered the topic of “ingroups” and “outgroups”, how little it takes for people to identify themselves as a part of some group and start showing in-group favoritism and outgroup derogation.
In the middle of the lecture, as a demonstration of the topic, the lecturer asked to take a look at the picture with dots for 5 seconds and, without counting, just estimate the number of dots on the screen.
Next there was a text field to which you could submit your answer and click to continue the lecture. The lecturer on the screen concluded, enthusiastically:
Congratulation! Based on your answer it looks like you are an over-estimator – and we all know it’s better to be an over-estimator than an under-estimator. Right?
Then, after a short pause, in a less cheerful, more regular tone he continued:
Well, no. We don’t. To the best of my knowledge there’s no difference in life outcome between people who overestimate or underestimate the number of dots on the screen. But what Tajfel [the researcher] found is that when people were randomly assigned to get a feedback that they were “over-estimators” or “under-estimators”, regardless of the estimates they gave people tended to show ingroup bias – the tendency to favor one’s own group over the members of the outgroup.
The experiment was lost on me: not only didn’t I feel good in those couple of seconds between the first statement and its subsequent debunking, but, on the contrary, in that short period of time I felt disappointed: I thought that I was very close to the right answer and, if anything, rather underestimated the number of dots than overestimated them. To be right was more important to me than to belong to a group.
My answer was 120. And later, when I got that picture to share with you on this post and counted, I proved to myself that I was right on both counts: I was close and my estimate was slightly lower than the reality: there are 130 dots on that picture.
Hajusuuri still hopes to get an official answer to my question from Caron and I’ll share it with you later if it arrives. But meanwhile I counted perfumes mentioned on Caron’s website (including those available only from boutiques) – 32.
I’m not asking dgambas, I know that even if he’s not feeling good yet, having guessed the right number, he’ll be in a moment when I announce that he also is a randomly (!) chosen winner of the Set 1: samples of Caron perfumes. Set 2: a sample of vintage Caron Bellodgia extrait, a sample of Serge Lutens Boxeuses AND a 4 mL decant of Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin goes to Azar. Winners, please send your mailing address to me or hajusuuri.
I was seriously off with my guess, an under-estimator, which isn’t surprising: I’m usually very cautious. But so were most of the respondents. So now I’m curious: under-estimators, do you feel better knowing that there were 17 of us, even though we guessed wrong? Four over-estimators, you were also wrong, but do you feel special because you were more uniquely wrong? Did belonging to a group make you feel better?