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Dispatches from Alex Poindexter

Uber News from Across the World
June 20, 2003

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Thursday, June 20, 2003 8:31 PM

By Alex Poindexter - Uber Media Writer


June 20, 2003 | SAN FRANCISCO, CA (UMR) - Which would you prefer? The entire Sixth Season DVD that is dreadfully recorded except for the crystal clear Xena's-head-on-a-sushi-board scene or a DVD that won't arrive for six months but plays Dreamworker perfectly with special commentary from the Warrior Princess herself?

Well, that depends on whether you have just seen a good rerun of Xena: Warrior Princess.

Researchers sat down two groups of Xenites and asked them that question. Those who saw the reruns first and then answered the question were quite happy to wait for a top quality recording of an excellent episode. The ones who had to answer the question before watching the reruns opted to take home Xena's-head-on-a-sushi-board rather than wait.

Studies such as these, which focus on how human behaviour and emotions affect people's economic choices, are part of a rapidly growing field known as behavioral economics.

It challenges one of the fundamental principles of economic theory: That people are perfectly rational and always act in their best economic interests. And it has sweeping implications for how policy makers view the economy.

Naturally, none of this is news to the folks at Creation who play on fans' emotions and neverending well of trust as a matter of course.

"Emotions have the capacity to turn us into virtually different people -- spendthrifts or tightwads, among other things," said Dr. Andie Travers, the professor at Sunny Dale University who worked on the study.

The Annual Xena/Hercules Convention hosted a special seminar on the topic of "How Xenites Behave -- Implications for Economics and Policy". For two days at a resort in beautiful downtown Pasadena, psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, economists, and Federal officials pored over MRI scans of the brain and discussed laboratory studies in which people make irrational economic choices.

"Behavioral economists have discovered the wild side of macroeconomic behavior. Desperate fans with more money than sense will buy any piece of crap with XWP stamped on it," said a Sunny Dale economics grad student.

The challenge now is making connections between the research, which draws heavily on psychology and the social sciences, and the apparently deep pockets of the Xenaverse at large.

You can write Uber journalist Alex Poindexter at alexpoindexter@whoosh.org.

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