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Author Topic: Is our perception of worth/value affected by venue?  (Read 3748 times)
wraith808
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« on: January 25, 2012, 04:57:14 PM »

I just saw a picture and article posted by a friend about Joshua Bell, world reknowned violinist playing on the subway incognito, and for playing a set that he'd played for $100 a ticket in a concert hall, of some of the most intricately arranged classical pieces (though not popular tunes), on an instrument worth 3.5 million dollars, he received over the course of an hour $59, and was recognized only once.  I thought this had to be a hoax, but did some research and found it to be true.

A Concert Violinist on the Metro?

Pearls Before Breakfast

I'm normally pretty observant, especially in regards to music and the arts.  But I started to wonder... would I have really noticed?  Is our perception of the relative beauty of art/music- and the worth of that skill and talent- affected so much by venue?

Something to think about...
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40hz
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2012, 06:01:58 PM »

In Josh Bell's case, I don't think it's so much the venue as the the structure of the "audience." And the difference between "audiences" and "attendees." And their differing degrees of "engagement."

People who are paying $100 are "in the market" to listen to Mr. Bell. They know who he is, what to expect, and have made a decision to pay the asking price in order to hear him. And because of the expense involved (ticket price + dinner + travel time and expense + etc.) they arrive very "motivated" to hear him and get their money's worth. And that opportunity to be "fully engaged" with the performer and the music is also a big part of what they're paying for.

For example...



     ... ok...bad example. Let's move on, shall we?.

The people on the subway are NOT in the market. They're paying to get where they're going - and preferably as quickly and painlessly as possible. Josh Bell is an "unsought for" product in that context. Some people enjoyed his music enough that they kicked some money into his hat. But since many people in attendance weren't interested in what he was doing (since musical styles appeal to different audiences) and possibly lacked the time and patience to check it out, he was just as likely to be taken as an annoying busker as he was an internationally recognized performer. Likely because he wasn't recognized. But possibly even if he were.

If venue (which I'm taking to mean location) had any bearing, I think it has more to do with physical appropriateness rather than a social highbrow/lowbrow perception of the place. Violins are acoustic instruments. Subways are crowded and noisy - and (if located under NYC) also smell...um...rather piquant. None of these are conducive to the environment needed (i.e. quiet, distraction free, peaceful) to really appreciate the subtitles and nuances of a violin, or a player like Mr. Bell.

The subway was a bad choice. It has too many physical negatives going against a violin performance to really be valid in this context. I have a similar opinion about outdoor and sports arena rock concerts. The sound quality is usually bad enough that I'm not interested in attending even if I like the groups that are playing and have tickets.

It's an interesting question. But I don't think this experiment had sufficient controls or identification of variables to be anything other than "interesting." And possibly point the way towards a more scientifically valid experiment.



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wraith808
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2012, 07:33:31 PM »

I just wonder how much I miss by not paying attention, especially noticing the exit interview.  And I was very touched by the person that went to be out of his 'space' but still listen.  Then after he had to move on, humbly gave the $5 tip.  It was more those interviews that affected me more than the actual events in the subway.

It's sort of like walking through a forest to get somewhere, and never noticing the trees.  It just saddened me for some reason.
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 07:42:42 PM »

Compare "apple products" sold in applestore and "windows products" sold in any random computer shop.
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wraith808
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 07:48:06 PM »

Compare "apple products" sold in applestore and "windows products" sold in any random computer shop.

I don't think that's a fair comparison.  This is true art that one person in a million has the skill to develop and true artistry like none other.  To compare that to popcorn technology is not quite an apt comparison in my opinion.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2012, 07:52:02 PM »

Compare "apple products" sold in applestore and "windows products" sold in any random computer shop.

I don't think that's a fair comparison.  This is true art that one person in a million has the skill to develop and true artistry like none other.  To compare that to popcorn technology is not quite an apt comparison in my opinion.

Definitely not an apples to apples comparison.

(Sorry, couldn't resist)
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40hz
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 08:30:19 PM »

BTW...anybody care to hazard a guess as to who my "bad example" band was up above? smiley

Participants are strongly cautioned that a correct answer will undoubtedly give away your true age. tongue
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Renegade
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 09:28:25 PM »

Wow. That was interesting.

From one link:

Quote
Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L'Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with those indeterminate, oddly fungible titles: policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, consultant.

Please insert a snarky comment about bureaucrats here. Thank you. tongue


(I love violin... My favourite being Paganini. cheesy Learned to play his 24 caprices on guitar a long time ago.)


« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 09:36:49 PM by Renegade » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 09:34:51 PM »

Please insert a snarky comment about bureaucrats here. Thank you.

I thought it.  But then didn't say it.  Because I started to think about myself, and I wasn't 100% sure that I wouldn't have missed it either.  Sad
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Renegade
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2012, 09:42:32 PM »

Please insert a snarky comment about bureaucrats here. Thank you.

I thought it.  But then didn't say it.  Because I started to think about myself, and I wasn't 100% sure that I wouldn't have missed it either.  Sad

I think 40 was acute in his observation about the venue itself.

I rarely stop to listen to buskers except when they're really good.

Now, I know that I wouldn't have known him from Henry in a million years (never heard of him before actually). But, I have good enough ears to recognize talent and good instruments. (There's nothing like hearing the difference between a junky instrument and a good one - you just don't get good tone from junk. Sure, a fantastic artist can make it sound better, but still... no comparison.)



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bmikey
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2012, 09:52:17 PM »

Well, I think that people appreciate talent more when they see it in the proper setting and usually, our perception is a little off when we are situated in a place where we don't usually see that kind of stuff.  Which makes me wonder if people really see talent or, in some way, just goes with what others things just so they would not be left out, it could be the perfect argument right?
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Deozaan
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2012, 01:44:00 AM »

It was a set-up.

It's hard to get someone to stop to give you the time of day when they're busy on their way somewhere hoping they're not late. The focus of the crowd was largely to get to their destination or suffer the consequences.

Beethoven could be conducting (live!) in the main lobby of a hospital and the people heading into the emergency room with a loved one who is having a heart attack or other urgent, fatal, medical condition, probably will be too caught up in their own situation to notice.

Whereas if Joshua Bell had been playing somewhere and some time in which people had time to spare and no other urgent matters (such as a weekend street marketplace) I am quite confident more people would have paid attention and perhaps even recognized him.
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wraith808
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2012, 06:45:38 AM »

It was a set-up.

That was the point.  And that's the provoking part to me.
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40hz
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2012, 07:01:08 AM »


It was a set-up.



Sometimes, all it takes is four well-chosen words.



Deozaan just nailed it. Thmbsup

« Last Edit: January 26, 2012, 07:07:09 AM by 40hz » Logged

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wraith808
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2012, 12:14:33 PM »

But is it a set up when the set up is part of the experiment?

Quote
Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, was asked the same question. What did he think would occur, hypothetically, if one of the world's great violinists had performed incognito before a traveling rush-hour audience of 1,000-odd people?

"Let's assume," Slatkin said, "that he is not recognized and just taken for granted as a street musician . . . Still, I don't think that if he's really good, he's going to go unnoticed. He'd get a larger audience in Europe . . . but, okay, out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening."

So, a crowd would gather?

"Oh, yes."

And how much will he make?

"About $150."

Thanks, Maestro. As it happens, this is not hypothetical. It really happened.

The 'set-up' was part of the experiment, so that's not an analytical observation as much as it's a given?  huh
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Deozaan
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2012, 02:50:01 PM »

Well maybe this is just hindsight bias speaking, but it seems to me like a foregone conclusion in today's society that busy people usually won't stop to smell the roses, so to speak.

In my opinion, the initial premise wasn't that interesting to begin with because the result could easily be predicted. It would be like asking "What would happen if, hypothetically speaking, we put an iPad under water." The result is predictable. But then again, Leonard Slatkin didn't predict what the actual result was. In hindsight it is easy for me to think things like "Well he's the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, so of course he'd overestimate the importance of music and the effect it would have in every day people." But as I said from the beginning that may just be hindsight bias working its magic.

Though to be honest, I think the writer of the article knew the result wasn't very surprising and thus not very interesting to begin with so he used Leonard Slatkin's prediction to anchor our expectations so that we were surprised by the result in the end. You can see him set it up right here:

So, what do you think happened?

HANG ON, WE'LL GET YOU SOME EXPERT HELP.

Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, was asked the same question. What did he think would occur, hypothetically, if one of the world's great violinists had performed incognito before a traveling rush-hour audience of 1,000-odd people?

Before you're given a chance to reflect and honestly predict what happened, you are interrupted and given someone else's prediction, which subconsciously anchors your expectations, causing you to be unable to make an unbiased prediction.
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wraith808
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2012, 03:24:05 PM »

Before you're given a chance to reflect and honestly predict what happened, you are interrupted and given someone else's prediction, which subconsciously anchors your expectations, causing you to be unable to make an unbiased prediction.

I didn't read that article first though.  Actually, I only saw a picture shared and a story of what happened, which made me think that it was fake, because I couldn't imagine.
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40hz
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2012, 03:30:57 PM »

Anchoring, on the other hand, can do much more than just allow us to indulge in bad thinking.

NLP makes extensive use of anchoring for self improvement and performance enhancement. What you basically do is become consciously aware of the effect of anchoring on your thinking, get yourself into the mental state you want, and then set a physical trigger to invoke the anchor you've just created. Then, whenever you need to get into that state, invoke the trigger, and you're there.

It's very similar to those rituals you see athletes going through before a match to psyche themselves up. Just a lot more streamlined.

It takes practice to make it work effectively and predictably.

But what doesn't?

Here's a link if you want a very quick intro and step-by-step. NLP has a lot more to say about anchoring, which is used in conjunction with other thinkertoys they've come up with. So if you're really interested, check out Wikipedia for Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

If you don't want to get into the heavy duty clinical stuff, motivational guru Anthony Robbins has put together his own riff on NLP which he calls "neuro-associative conditioning." In addition to his term being a better descriptor for what NLP is actually about, some people have also had better success with Tony's variant. Either approach (NLP or NAC) works. Or does as long as you don't let yourself be too put off by Robbin's rah-rah style and delivery and quit.

I can tell you that, based on my experiences with it, NLP works amazingly well. But don't take my word for it. If it sounds cool to you - go check it out.

My GF (who holds a Masters in cognitive psyche) calls it "Gestalt for Geeks."

If true, that alone should make it accessible for most of the people here, right? Grin
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wraith808
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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2012, 04:16:07 PM »

Anchoring, on the other hand, can do much more than just allow us to indulge in bad thinking.

NLP makes extensive use of anchoring for self improvement and performance enhancement. What you basically do is become consciously aware of the effect of anchoring on your thinking, get yourself into the mental state you want, and then set a physical trigger to invoke the anchor you've just created. Then, whenever you need to get into that state, invoke the trigger, and you're there.

Well, yes... I understand that.  But my point is that the anchor wasn't set by the article, as I found that in research after the fact, rather than before.
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40hz
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« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2012, 04:29:26 PM »

But my point is that the anchor wasn't set by the article, as I found that in research after the fact, rather than before.

Ah...sorry. Missed a bit of that. Next time I'll read a little more carefully before going off an a semi-tangent. embarassed
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tomos
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« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2012, 04:33:05 PM »

Also, they chose a time least conducive to actually hanging around and listening to music. Probably because they wanted it to be a "disaster" so as they could gloat about the extremes.

OTOH:
I love live music myself - you hear some great stuff around here (smallish city) but people rarely if ever actually stop and listen. I dont know why exactly that is. I used to live in Dublin (much busier), and good buskers in the city centre would get huge crowds around them. Including me ;-)

I have ideas about the differences between the two: - cultural differences; less young people in the smaller city, it's more provincial; bigger city more open to different music(s)
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Tom
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« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2012, 02:47:33 PM »

Sorry, I consider this "already solved research", this is more of a "educate this year's class" kind of item.

The point of course is that relatively few things have "universal value", so when you purposely present the item out of its context, it converges closer to random. All jokes aside, this is how business even exists. An awesome example is the guys who discovered that "unusable" poultry discards could become Slim Jims.

Or how $300 jewelry drifts into yard sales for $10.

We're reacting because this was a "classical art" performance. But ya know? I don't care for that kind of music, so it might even become "negative value" to me if it was next to me on a subway!
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