A “Well, duh!” study

Occasionally, while perusing EurekAlert!, I come across studies that I like to call “Well, duh!” studies because they seem to come to conclusions that are mind-numbingly obvious. For example, this one:

If women want the best possible service at a clothing store, they had better be looking fashionable and well-groomed before they hit the mall.
A new study found that well-dressed and groomed women received the friendliest and, in some cases, fastest service from salesclerks.

Researchers secretly observed interactions between customers and salesclerks at three large-sized women’s clothing stores, timing how long clerks took to greet customers, and rating the clerks’ friendliness.

Customers whose clothes were rated as more fashionable and attractive, and who showed better grooming and make-up skills, received better service than those whose appearance was not rated as highly.

“How well-dressed you are is one indicator of your status, and how much money you have to spend,” said Sharron Lennon, co-author of the study and professor of consumer sciences at Ohio State University.

“Salesclerks believe that a well-dressed person is more likely to buy, and that affects the treatment she receives.”

Lennon conducted the study with Minjeong Kim, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, who did the work while a graduate student at Ohio State.

Their results were published in a recent issue of Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.

Most women (or, for that matter, most men even) could have told you that. Heck, even I, as clueless as I am about shopping, could have told you that. I know that it may be of interest to clothing stores to quantify these effects. It is also true that one of the most important purposes of science is to test our assumptions against the data and see if “common knowledge” really is true or if it’s myth. But surely someone must have looked at this issue before?