Tag Archives: UK

How could we enjoy difficult modern art better?

Most people have some degree of difficulty in understanding art, especially modern art. In the following, someone at Quora tried to answer “why is modern art/painting very difficult to understand.”

Modern art paintings are the best way to portray the unseen on the canvas. It is about the expression of emotions and feelings on and is not what you see at the very first glance. It can have many interpretations when seen through different angles. If you want to know more about modern art, then you can also read “Why is the New Art So Hard to understand”. It is a book written by Theodor Adorno, a German social theorist who shed more highlight on this concept that why Modern art paintings are so hard to understand modern art. Although the book was written in 1931, it is still relevant in today’s era.

Since modern art is not easy to understand, visitors often keep quiet in the gallery. However, in the Tate Liverpool, UK, several British students gathered together and discussed something in front of the London subway map. They actively discussed several British celebrities to answer the questions in the map, which looked fresh to me. What made me surprised was the very last, underlined, sentence in a piece of paper under the map.

Simon Patterson born 1967 (Born and work UK) / The Great Bear 1992 (Lithograph on paper)

While this appears to be a standard map of the London Underground, the name of each station has been changed. Patterson has swapped the real station names for those of footballers, actors, and other celebrated figures. The image challenges our expectation that we can trust maps and diagrams. Sometimes Patterson seems to be making jokes with his choices. For example, Gary Lineker, who never received a yellow or red card as a football player, sits at the connection between footballers and saints.

What do you think about artists taking and changing existing images?

This sentence, probably written by a curator, relieved me a lot. It allowed me to fail to understand the artist’s intention. It allowed me not to agree with the artist’s opinions. Indeed, I was allowed not to consider it as art.

Interestingly, the curator added one to two sentences under the whole art pieces in the gallery. These additionally added sentences made the Tate Liverpool more friendly and approachable. Easy is better than difficult.

Shah, A. K., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2007). Easy does it: The role of fluency in cue weighting. Judgment and Decision Making, 2(6), 371–379.

We propose that people weight fluent, or easy to process, information more heavily than disfluent information when making judgments. Cue fluency was manipulated independent of objective cue validity in three studies, the findings from which support our hypothesis. In Experiment 1, participants weighted a consumer review more heavily when it was written in a clear font than in a less clear font. In Experiment 2, participants placed more weight on information when it was in focus than when it was blurry. In Experiment 3, participants placed more weight on financial information from brokerage firms with easy to pronounce names than those with hard to pronounce names. These studies demonstrate that fluency affects cue weighting independent of objective cue validity.

Donate in cash or by credit card

We often pay in cash or by credit card. Differently from cash, credit card often leads us to over-consumption. This is because credit card does not require us to write down the amount paid (rehearsal) and our wealth is not depleted immediately rather than with a delay (immediacy) (Soman 2001).

We could also donate in cash or by credit card. For example, visitors at the Tate Liverpool in UK could donate 4 pounds by inserting bills into a silver box or tapping their credit cards on a white device. Which donation mechanism benefits the museum better?

Soman, D. (2001). Effects of payment mechanism on spending behavior: The role of rehearsal and immediacy of payments. Journal of Consumer Research27(4), 460-474.

Past expenses have been shown to influence future spending behavior by depleting available budgets. However, a prerequisite for this relationship is the accurate recall of past payments and the experiencing of the full aversive impact associated with them. This article shows that the use of different payment mechanisms influences both these factors and hence moderates the effects of past payments on future spending. Specifically, past payments strongly reduce purchase intention when the payment mechanism requires the consumer to write down the amount paid (rehearsal) and when the consumer’s wealth is depleted immediately rather than with a delay (immediacy). Two experiments show support for the proposed theoretical framework.

Louis Kahn, the architect of IIM Ahmedabad

I came to know Louis Kahn at the Design Museum, London. This little museum held an exhibition called the power of architecture and introduced him and his work.

Louis Kahn (1901-74) was one of the most influential architects of the twentieth century. With complex spatial compositions and a choreographic mastery of light, Kahn created buildings of archaic beauty and powerful universal symbolism. His work impacted many of his contemporaries and still serves today as a model and measure among architects, expecially those of the younger generation.

Kahn’s acclaim is based on a small number of buildings that were elected over a short time period of just 25 years. While his early work focused on housing and urban planning in his home city of Philadelphia, he started to gain a worldwide reputation toward the end of the 1950s as an architect of public buildings. Kahn designed museum, laboratories, schools, churches, synagogues, and even a national parliament. For a long time he was exclusively active in the USA, yet his later work took an an increasingly global dimension. Consequently, two of his most important projects were executed in India and Bangladesh – the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (1962-74) and the National Assembly building in Dhaka (1962-83).





Verbal instructions do not work

People often use verbal signs to give instructions to others. The store owner posts a sign on the window saying, “This is a window, please use the door.” Government officers paint “Look Right” at the pedestrian crossing. However, I have observed numerous store visitors and pedestrians mistakenly push or slide the window and look left before crossing the road. In these cases, a visual signage might work better to attract their attention and guide their behavior.



Train experience: Mechanical vs. Electronic

I recently traveled on trains in UK (London – Edinburgh) and in Korea (Seoul – Busan) and found two interesting differences.

First, I used a physical train ticket in UK and used an electronic ticket in Korea. In UK, I collected a paper ticket at the station and then physically showed it to the conductor on board at the time of ticket control. Interestingly, a slot was designated for train ticket on the headrest of each seat; thus, I did not have to interact with the conductor. Differently from this mechanical system, I paid for a train ticket online and my seat was booked in advance in Korea. Overall, I preferred the traditional mechanical way of working over the electronic one. Although the electronic system sounds convenient, I had spent more than 2 hours at home on going through hundreds of websites to buy a single train ticket online. I wish people do not replace the mechanical approach with the electronic one simply because the electronic approach looks cool.

Another interesting difference was that train seats in UK are higher than the train seats in Korea. In the UK train, people find it difficult to confirm whether a seat was taken or empty. However, it was relatively easy in the Korean train. Certainly, train seats were designed differently based on the average height of the people in each country. However, this difference further suggest that privacy matters more in the UK culture whereas publicness seems to be weighted more in the Korean culture.

DML_Train UK (1)

UK train (London – Edinburgh)


Korean train (Seoul – Busan)

DML_Train Korea

What is an advantage of having a popular first name?

First name (or given name) is the name that identifies a specific person. It differentiates a person from other members of a group, such as a family or clan, with whom that person shares a common last name (or family name). While last name is normally inherited, first name is “free to choose” and thus can be unique.

In some countries, however, only a few options seem to be highly popular. Many of my friends who were born and live in US, UK, or Canada have common first names. In English-based countries, Coke’s massively-distributed-but-highly-customized “first name” marketing campaign will work: each bottle of coke has its own first name label such as John, Sarah, Emma, and Alex. However, popular first names seem to be avoided in other countries. Most of my Korean friends have their own unique first names. In this country, Coke marketers may find it difficult to find popular first names and launch a marketing campaign using them.

DML_London_Firstnames on Coke

Then, why do some people pick up popular first names and others avoid them?

Make public communication points useful

Nowadays, people rarely use pay phones or mailboxes run by government. Instead, they prefer to use private services when communicating with others; they use mobile phones or gmails. As people find the contemporary public services slow and inconvenient, they avoid public communication points. Ironically, most of the public communication points such as pay phone booths and mail boxes are located at the high traffic areas. Put simply, relatively useless, public communication points stand at the highly useful, high traffic areas.

Therefore, many people propose to use public communication points for other purposes. For example, they suggest to use pay phone booths to charge batteries from mobile phones to electronic cars, to use the booths to collect traffic data, or to leave defibrillator, a device to give electric shock to someone’s hearts, for emergency.

DML_London Public (1)

Pay toilet, spoiled customer, and mental accounting

I have seen pay toilets at train stations or tourist spots in London. Since paying money to use public toilet was new to me, I simply thought making profits by victimising tourists is unethical. However, one of my friends who has been living in London for a few years said money should be collected to maintain toilet clean.

DML_Toilet 1

I found that I paid too much attention to consumers’ service and did not carefully think about the maintenance issue. In order words, I did not separate the toilet service from the train service, and simply requested free toilet service because I paid for the train service.

When I lived in Toronto a few years ago, I did not expect free bundles or free services. I walked to a restaurant to eat, I carried a newly purchased microwave oven by myself, I visited a bank to pay hydro, and I paid for the lotions at stores. After moving to Seoul from from Toronto, however, I have become accustomed to free things; I ordered food or bought devices and asked for free delivery service, wired money at home without visiting the bank, and received a lot of free sample lotions at stores. Indeed, the guardian chose Seoul as the 10 best cities in the world to be a student because McDonald’s in Seoul runs a 24-hour delivery service. Although free goods and convenient services offered by this city may welcome budget-tight foreign students, people who are constantly surrounded by free stuffs become easily spoiled. I am not exception, either.

Then, how could I fix this situation? I believe mental accounting might be an answer. Researchers suggest that people keep track of their past transactions and plan their future budgets mentally. While doing so, people often make mistakes. They do not accurately remember how much they spend when using credit card or fail to separate different expenses but put them into one category. For instance, if I mentally account better when someone delivers McDonald’s set to my place, I can separate delivery cost from McDonald’s set price and then, at least, appreciate and thank for free delivery service. If I mentally accounted better about pay toilet at the train station, I paid for toilet without complaining.

Mental accounting was originally proposed to study people’s biased financial decisions. However, it may help people to be nicer by decreasing the degree to which they are spoiled. 🙂