Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Possession is nine-tenths of owning

For proof that Communism was bound to fail, pull a chair up to the table of a restaurant critic and his three guests. Then watch what happens after he tells them what to order, the food has been delivered, and everyone begins to take bites of everything, making a broad sample of the menu.

Jane tries some of the gnocchi Dick has passed to her, and curls her lip.

“My pork loin is much, much better,” she proclaims, with a resounding emphasis on the word “my” and no hint of recognition that the loin wasn’t her pick: the critic randomly assigned it to her.

“True,” Mary chimes in, affirming the pork, only to add, “My short ribs are the best thing on the table.”

“Well, I love my gnocchi,” Dick counters, possessive and prickly. He’s defending more than dumplings. It’s his very discernment that he’s standing up for, even though it never came into play. And he accentuates his pique by wresting the gnocchi from Jane. Like a kid in the schoolyard, he wants his ball back.
--Frank Bruni, NYT, on the endowment effect in restaurant reviewing. See the Wikipedia entry for endowment effect.

No comments: