I Coulda Been a Contender
By Bryan Caplan
For every winner, there are ten people saying (perhaps under their breath) that “I’m as good as him. It could have been me.” Now Robin links to a clever study showing that this is more than just self-deception:
In our study, … 14,000 participants … were asked to listen to, rate and, if they chose, download songs by bands they had never heard of. Some of the participants saw only the names of the songs and bands, while others also saw how many times the songs had been downloaded by previous participants. This second group – in what we called the “social influence” condition – was further split into eight parallel “worlds” such that participants could see the prior downloads of people only in their own world. …
[A] listener’s own reactions is easily overwhelmed by his or her reactions to others. The song “Lockdown,” by 52metro, for example, ranked 26th out of 48 in quality; yet it was the No. 1 song in one social-influence world, and 40th in another. Overall, a song in the Top 5 in terms of quality had only a 50 percent chance of finishing in the Top 5 of success.
So does this mean it’s a good time to say, “Everyone‘s buying my book?”