A Total Shirt Show: Another Social Experiment
You’ve probably heard that Steve Jobs (and Mark Zuckerberg to a lesser extent) popularized the idea among tech execs to combat decision fatigue by wearing the same thing every day. Prior to that becoming part of the Silicon Valley zeitgeist, host hotlou had been doing a less extreme version of it. His decision to do it, however, was more a product of mere convenience than in pursuit of assuaging decision fatigue. But soon into this habit, he wondered if anyone was noticing. So that’s when he designed — you guessed it — a social experiment to determine whether they were. Welcome to the Total Shirt Show.
Total Shirt Show
Host hotlou had been doing a similar thing, wearing the same thing several days in a row, then into the hamper, then on to the next thing for a few days. Eventually, it occurred to him, “is anyone noticing?”
That’s when he decided to wear the exact same shirt over and over until someone said something. The shirt was a simple RVCA shirt that read “Forging Ahead” with a bit of design on it (at press, the shirt has not been located for a photo).
One morning, about 3 weeks into the experiment, he slipped on the shirt inside out and looked in the mirror to see that the design was still viewable inside out (even though the lettering was obviously backwards). At that point, he decided to start wearing inside out until someone said something.
After a few days, the total shirt show experiment came to a close because someone finally politely observed “do you know your shirt is inside out?” To which Lou responded, “do you know I’ve been wearing this shirt for a month straight?” and the observant coworker was in disbelief.
The Spotlight Effect
While most people would assume that someone would say something much sooner and assume that if nothing was being said, it was out of politeness. The reality is, as was recently covered on the show, The Spotlight Effect dictates that people just aren’t paying as much attention to us as we think they are.
Use The Spotlight Effect to your advantage. Take a few risks in marketing, in business, and in life in general.
Sexism of a Total Shirt Show
The male host of an Australian morning news show, Karl Stefanovic, conducted a similar experiment in 2014. After his female cohost was being ruthlessly criticized for her fashion choices, he decided to wear the exact same suit every day for a year (video below).
One additional observation I’d like to make about this is that even after he revealed it, even the story of his experiment got less press than his female host’s critics got. The included video is the highest viewed video on YouTube on the story with a mere 28k views.
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