Something About Beer (Under the Influence)

So … er … ah …

HopsYou know that thing where you’re out to drinks with friends, and you’d very much like an IPA―but then the first person to order chooses an IPA, and you feel like you can’t order the same thing, because that would be weird? So you order an amber ale instead. The drinks arrive, and you unhappily sip the second-choice beer you already regret ordering.


… really?

No, seriously. I … I … I mean … really?

This actually happens?

Science of UsYou know, that thing. Or maybe you don’t. It’s a semi-regular scene from my own life, anyway, and it’s also a scene from Wharton professor Jonah Berger’s new book, Invisible Influence, which is about the unseen ways the people around you shape your behavior. The beer anecdote is a brief rundown of a study conducted at a brewery by the consumer psychologists Dan Ariely and Jonathan Levav, who argue in their paper that people are highly motivated to signal their uniqueness, even when it comes to something as small and dumb as ordering a beer.

Alright, then. I just learned something.

No, really, I had no idea.


Dahl, Melissa. “The Annoying Psychology of How Your Friends Influence the Beer You Order”. Science of Us. 9 September 2016.

A Glimpse of Dystopia

Look, it’s not so much that Andy Ostroy is somehow wrong―

Imagine you’re approaching the counter at Walmart. The cashier looks in your wagon and politely informs you that as a Catholic she can’t ring up your condoms. Another cashier, a Christian Scientist, says he’s refusing to ring up your aspirin. An Orthodox Jew tells you she can’t ring up your bacon. A Muslim says he won’t touch the bikini you have in your wagon. And then there’s other Kim Davis wannabes who, as strict bible-interpreting devout Christians, won’t serve you because you’re gay, or have been divorced.

―because he’s not. But it is also true that we might wonder who he’s telling. That is, it’s hardly original; indeed, we might suggest that those of us who don’t disagree already know, and those who might wish to assert their equal right to supremacy under law have heard and don’t give damn.