I didn’t write this article myself. I just feel like sharing and on the same occasion, practicing typing. 🙂
It was extracted from the book named “The upside of irrationality” I’m reading, which is so interesting and quite familiar to each of us, in my opinion.
A few days later, we set up an origami booth in the student centre at Harvard and offered students the opportunity to create either an origami frog or an origami crane (which were of similar complexity). We also told the participants that their finished creations would techically belong to us but that we would give them the opportunity to bid for their origami in an auction.
We told participants that they were going to bit against a computer using a special method called the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak procedure (named after its inventors), which we then explained to them in minute detail. In short, a computer would spit out a random number after the participant made his or her bid for the item. If the participant’s bid was higher than the computer’s, they would receive the origami and pay the price set by the computer. On the other hand, if a participant’s bid was lower than the computer’s, they would not pay a thing nor receive the origami. The reason we used this procedure was to ensure that it was in the participant’s best interest to bid the highest amount that they were willing to pay for their origami – not a penny more or less.
One of the first people to approach the booth was Scott, an eager third-year political science major. After explaining the experiment adn the rules of the auction, we provided him with the instructions for creating both the frog and the crane. If you happen to have appropriate paper handy, feel free to try it yourself.
Scott, whom we put into the creator condition, carefully followed the instructions, making sure each fold matched the diagram. In the end, he had made a very passable origami frog. When we asked what he would bid for it (using the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak procedure), he paused and then said firmly: “25 cents”. Hid bid was very close to the average bid in the creator condition, which was 23 cents.
Just then another student named Jason wandered up to the table and looked at Scott’s little creation. “What would you bid for this frog?”, the experimenter asked. Since Jason was just a passerby, he was in the noncreator condition; his job was simply to tell us how much he valued Scott’s creation. Jason picked up the folded paper and examined its well-formed head and uneven legs. He even pushed it on its back-side to make it jump a little. Finally, his bid for the frog (again using the Becker-DeGroot-Marschak procedure) was 5 cents, which was the average for those in the noncreator condition.
There was a distinct difference in valuation between the two conditions. The noncreators, like Jason, saw amateurish crumples of paper that looked more like folded mutations created by an evil scientist in a basement laboratory. At the same time, the creators of those crumples clearly imbued them with worth. Still, we did not know from this difference in bidding what caused the disparity in evaluations. Did the creators simply enjoy the art of orgami in general, while the noncreators (who did not have a chance to make origami) were indifferent to folded sheets of paper? Or did the participants in both conditions appreciate origami to the same degree, while the creators were deeply in love with their own particular creations? Put another way, did Scott and his co-horts fall in love with origami in general or just with their own creations?
To get an initial answer to these questions, we asked two origami experts to make frogs and cranes. Then we asked another group of noncreators to bid on their objectively gorgeous work. This time, the noncreators bid an average of 27 cents. The degree to which noncreators valued the professional-looking origami was very close to the bids made by Scott and his friends on their own amateurish art (23 cents) and much higher than the bids of the noncreators on the amateurish art (5 cents).
These results showed us that the creators had a substantial bias when evaluating their own work. Noncreators viewed the amateurish art as useless and the professional version as much, much more exciting. In contrast, the creators saw their own work as almost as good as the experts’ origami. It seemed that the difference between creators and noncreators was not in how they viewed the art of origami in general, but in the way that the creators came to love and overvalue their own creations.
In summary, these initial experiments suggest that once we build something, we do, in fact, view it with more loving eyes. As an old Arabic saying goes, “Even the monkey, in his mother’s eyes, is an antelope.”
We tend to overvalue our own beloved creations: seem like your children or nieces or nephews are the cutest and smartest kids in the world, your achievements or experiences are more special, photos you took are more beautiful than others’… Sounds familiar?After reading these paragraphs, few things have happened around me suddenly make sense. 😉
Thanks for reading.