Fart Psych

Starting with a question – Why do people feel less of a need to fart when they're in public? (I'm paraphrasing a bit) – this writer tracks down the only study he can find on the psychology of farts. He then interviews the genius who conducted the study and is a bit disappointed to discover that no real farts were involved:

The basic question behind this paper is: how does a fart in social context affect a person's views of the farter? In order to study this, Lippman took a bunch of college students, and gave them a series of hypothetical situations in which someone farted. He asked them to rate their opinions of that person.

It's really sad to me that the situations were all hypothetical. This was part of Dr. Lippman's caricature of many social psychology studies being performed at the time, which tended to rely on pen and paper rankings while college students considered hypothetical situations. While it makes for a good caricature, I'm sad to know that my idealized vision of little knots of people with someone letting loose a silent'n'deadly never actually happened. And really, you have to think this would be a hard thing to plan. After all, how many people do you know can release a silent, deadly fart ON COMMAND?

So Lippman had students fill out surveys. In another poke at social psychology (which often involves 3 factorial designs), this one involved a FIVE-dimensional design. Just to go over the top. The variables were the following:

1) Whether you were in a group of strangers or a group of acquaintances.
2) Whether the fart was loud or silent.
3) Whether the fart was scentless or rank (the word used was in fact "rank").
4) Whether the fart was deliberate.
5) Whether the person taking the questionnaire and hypothetically "experiencing" the fart (the fart-ee?) was male or female.

The rest of the read is equally enlightening.

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