In a recent psychological study at the University of Phoenix, a series of experiments were conducted to see how much physical pain people would rather endure than an ounce of social awkwardness. Diane Ross, the head of the sociology department at Phoenix, explained to us exactly how it works.
“We take a few random people off the street. Anyone who wants to get electrocuted in exchange for money is welcome to participate in these studies. Some kinksters offered to do this study for free. We are eternally grateful to the BDSM community for their contribution to science,” explained Ross.
Apparently, this facility does a lot of electrocution-based experiments, and (for some strange reason) there doesn’t appear to be a lot of funding. This winter, the sociology department is trying to figure out how many volts of electricity someone would take if it meant putting away their change in a timely fashion. Credit card swipe strips that only work half the time are the main widget of this experiment. Participants are forced to use at least three different cards in order to complete their transaction. Or, touch a hot blade. Nearly everyone chooses the blade.
One of the most controversial aspects of the experiment is the random selection of participants that will be shamed. A cutout of a cashier with their arms folded has a plethora of embarrassing sayings, such as, “Your card has been declined. Maybe you need to put more money into your account?” “You didn’t bring a reusable bag? Hm.” and of course “What kinds of peppers are these? We don’t have them in our system-give me a few minutes to enter them.”
Results are finding that even if there isn’t anyone behind them, and they are completely aware that this is not a real grocery transaction, participants will sweat profusely and attempt to apologize in quivering voices with each passing phrase. In a pavlovian reaction, many will turn their head around, to the empty room behind them, and scream “Sorry!” while staring at a floor or ceiling tiles. Any type of tile at this time will provide more comfort to a person than human eye contact.
The study has concluded that people prefer white tiles, as they are the best for comforting people in these situations. The blank canvases are great for projecting their humiliation.