Archive for March, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Post ImageRomeo and Juliet had name troubles. One of them a Montague and the other a Capulet (or perhaps a Jet and a Shark, if that's more your thing), their love was forbidden by the very labels given to them by their families (or by their toe-tappin', finger-snappin' gangs, if that's more your thing). But Juliet knew. She got it. Juliet knew that a simple label did not define her Romeo. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Call a rose a pickle, and it would still smell like a rose. The name does not matter.

Or does it?

I've read of several independent experiments that tested whether the name given to an object changes the way we smell the object. Essentially, smelly things (good, neutral, and bad) would be put into bags or otherwise hidden from view and labeled. Test subjects would then read the label, smell the substance, and their reactions were recorded. What happened? If you labeled a bag of cheddar cheese as "cheddar cheese" people reacted favorably. If you labeled the same bag as "body odor" people hated it. Guess old Bill got it wrong.


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