Notwithstanding the Agriculture and Civil Supplies Minister and his veiled warnings about price rise, we middle class types who shop locally at various vegetable stalls, continue to practice the fine art of bargaining and haggling. Of course, some slightly more advanced evolved types have this quality missing, but like everything else we can always attribute it to say, Darwin or global warming.
The whole exercise is all about looking at some vegetables, touching/feeling/breaking(beans) for freshness, and then deciding what you think is a good affordable price that you will pay , say, per kilogram. During this time, the vendor is surreptitiously multitasking, completing monetary transactions, keeping one eye on you, and simultaneously thinking about what price he can get away with where you are concerned.
I used to think this was a way of life.
Turns out that this was actually a trigger for some hi-fi research.
Some guys at Duke University's Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, are doing research on how people see things, and ascertain the "worth" of what they see. And clearly, they did not have my vegetable vendor, and the price of fresh green peas in mind.
In what could be the world's first instance of using MCP (Male Chauvinistic Protocols), in their experiments, a bunch of chaps were shown 2 sets of pictures. One set was beautiful faces of women, and the other was pictures of money. They did MRI's to study the brain reactions and asked the participants if they'd pay more or less money to look at faces that were, respectively, more or less attractive.
"During the fMRI experiment, heterosexual men viewed a set of female faces that had previously been rated for attractiveness by peers. Interspersed with the face pictures were pictures of money, shown in several denominations, which indicated real monetary gains or losses that the participant could later spend during the next phase of the experiment.
The participants made a series of economic decisions: Should they spend more of their money to see a more attractive face, or spend less money but see a less attractive face? Each participant made about one hundred of these decisions, spending from one to 12 cents each time."
Turns out that when we look at something, the brain does two things .
One part in the frontal cortex, just literally lights up and enjoys the experience. Another part of the frontal cortex basically decides the "worth" of that experience. Basically says, that such and such a face, evokes this value response; similar faces will evoke possibly the same response, but a more exciting/beautiful face may again evoke a different value response. You can guess, which parts of the fellows brains lit up when what was shown.
All this has a huge bearing for the marketing of goods to the consumer.
Think of all the funding used in this, which could have been used for, say, water resources, droughts, building shelters for those having none etc etc. Why ?
We have exponents who exploit and have known this theory, in droves, in our country.
Ministers, folks in high places, are very careful of who they meet. Frequently, the reputation of their visitors precedes their visitors. Any prosperous looking visitor who comes to see them, probably generates furious lightening in their (minister's) frontal cortex , as it were. Several parts light up in MRI's , simply thrilled about the possibilities of " easy acquisitions".
Simultaneously, sidey/posterior parts of the frontal cortex, get into a desperate calculation, figuring out , what the visitor could be expected to shell out. The eyes , of course, also light up; outside , as well as in brain regions controlling sight, and that's why we see so many powerful types wearing sunglasses and glares in daily life.
Then there is also the theory of brain-lighting-by-induction. The Duke fellows don't know about it. It is universally acknowledged , that those in the vicinity of folks who have these smart sidey/posterior cortexes, also develop, by evolution, and induction, some very sharp neurons of their own. The poor visitors , coming to explain their problems and seeking a solution, are completely aware of this, and get properly fleeced.
But I digress. I was talking about the vegetable vendor.
Its best to know one's level, in life and society.
Yes, the tomatoes looked good, and the capsicums too. Peas were supposed to be in season, so maybe I could check those? I look at some French beans and try breaking one to test its tender age. Of course I cannot ignore the cauliflowers.
I look up . At the vegetable vendor. He sizes me up. I ponder about the price. I am sure the sidey/posterior part of my cortex has hit upon a Rs 15 per kilogram rate, despite the fact that the other main part is thrilled about the freshness of the peas. The offer is made.
He packs someone else's carrots, hands them over, and looks at me. Half a smile on his face. he shakes his head. Maybe his sidey/posterior value-cortex rattles.
A LIGHT goes ON to his left, somewhere behind.
"20 Rs a kilo. But if you buy two kilos, you can pay me 32."
I am simply amazed. Maybe the theory of stuff lighting up works. Maybe the thing on his left was the sidey/posterior cortex.
I buy the two kilos. As I stuff the veggies into my cloth bag, I see a large figure in a sari, rising behind the vegetable stall. Its the vendor's wife.
"I can't see the coriander down there. So I thought I'd put on the bulb a bit early this evening, and finish cleaning the coriander leaves...."
I mean, I know we invented zero, and were way ahead of the world ,in astronomy and things in ancient days. I know Obama is worried about us producing more engineers and scientists than them.
But a lifestyle depicting frontal cortex lighting rules ? Regardless of level of social strata ? Maybe the Duke fellows should factor that in.