Would wearing Mr. Rogers’ sweater make you more friendly?
Many people believe it could.
In one study, researchers asked American adults to picture someone else wearing one of Mr. Rogers’s sweaters without knowing its history. Eighty percent of subjects said that there was at least a 10 percent chance that Mr. Rogers’s sweater would make the oblivious wearer friendlier— and that it would be due to a transfer of “essence.”
And the truth is, it probably would.
A study shows that using Tiger Woods’ clubs would probably make you golf better:
Individuals who believed they were using the professional golfer’s putter perceived the size of the golf hole to be larger than golfers without such a belief and also had better performance, sinking more putts.
It’s not magic; it’s confidence.
But these beliefs can go to extremes. Organ recipients frequently believe they take on the character traits of those who made the donation.
According to one Israeli study of thirty-five heart recipients, 34 percent thought they might have picked up new character traits with their new heart. Four of them credited their increased sex drive to the donor’s mojo, with comments such as, “Apparently, the donor must have been quite a guy. He must have had several women.” In a survey of organ transplant patients at UCLA, 24 percent stated explicitly that receiving tissue from a nonhuman would change their appearance, personality, or eating or sexual habits. Many organ recipients declare a preference for a donor of the same sex. Men are particularly fearful of becoming more effeminate.
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