I read a great article this week titled Pearls Before Breakfast in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten (with help from Emily Shroder, Rachel Manteuffel, John W. Poole and Tom Shroder) about how the Washington Post hired amazingly talanted world-famous violinist Joshua Bell to play his three and a half million dollar Gibson ex Huberman for spare change outside the L’Enfant Plaza D.C. Metro station on the morning of January 12 to see if anyone would notice and to see how much he’d make.
A tremendously interesting experiment and article.
There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.
Besides being completely worth it to read the entire article the whole way through (it’s long), be sure not to miss the videos or the link for the complete audio of the performance.