Good Compared to What?: Why I Liked “The Hot Chick”

Thu, Dec 13, 2007

Simplicity Rules

This post is part of a series about The Paradox of Choice, a book about why more is less. Leave a comment below and I may randomly pick you to win one of three autographed copies. Read more of this series.

The Hot Chick: I liked it because I thought I would hate it
We have all been disappointed by a movie that we had high hopes of liking. You’ve probably also given a review of a movie that went something like, “it was pretty good, but I expected it to suck.”

That’s pretty much the only way to explain why I liked The Hot Chick, a Rob Schneider vehicle that I can’t believe I saw in the theater. This is a movie whose top keywords at IMDb are Underwear, Slacker, and Gay Kiss.

Yet, I couldn’t help but say good things about it. That’s because I set the “zero point,” my frame for comparison, as the lowliest of bad comedies. Like the pessimist’s dilemma, the zero point can be altered by a small change in phrasing:

A sign at a gas station that says “Discount for Paying Cash” sets the zero point at the credit card price. A sign that says “Surcharge for Using Credit” sets the zero point at the cash price. Thought the difference between cash and credit may be the same at both gas stations, people will be annoyed at having to pay a surcharge and delighted at getting a discount

Sounds like a great excuse to plan for generosity.

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom Watson Says:

    This reminds me of the whole debate term of “poisoning the well” but in reverse. If someone keeps telling me I have to see this movie because it’s “so great” my expectations, or in your example my “zero point”, keeps getting set higher and higher. Then, even if the movie is good I’ll likely not like it as much because it’s been hyped too much.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Simplicity Rules » Nobody cares about status Says:

    [...] There was so much to say about The Hot Chick, I missed the chance to show how nobody cares about status, as long as the other guy is doing worse than them. People were asked to choose between earning $50,000 a year with others earning $25,000 and earning $100,000 a year with others earning $200,000. They were asked to choose between 12 years of education (high school) when others have 8, and 16 years of education (college) when others have 20. They were asked to choose between an IQ of 110 when the IQ of others is 90 and an IQ of 130 when the IQ of others is 150. In most cases, more than half of the respondents chose the options that gave them better relative position. Better to be a big fish, earning $50,000, in a small pond than a small fish, earning $100,000, in a big one. [...]

  2. Simplicity Rules » Choice at the hardware store Says:

    [...] Good? Compared to what?, plus a bonus post: Nobody Cares About Status [...]

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