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Trinkaus: An Informal Look

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

A glance at the colorful research of an under-publicized scientist
by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, with research assistance from Rachael Moeller Gorman

John W. Trinkaus is the rare researcher whose interests and activities suggest the famous passage in Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Walrus and The Carpenter”:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”

For Trinkaus, of the Zicklin School of Business, Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York, such a diversity of topics is the norm. During the past 25 years he has conducted research on shoes — and trains — and bakery wrapping-tissues — on Brussels sprouts — and business students — and why commuters carry attaché cases — and whether most people wear base ball-type caps with the bill facing backwards. These are just a few of his interests.

John Trinkaus has published a modest corpus of reports, of which the 86 papers described below are a healthy sampling. On many topics, Trinkaus returned over and again, both to replicate his findings and to delve deeper.

For a full appreciation of John Trinkaus’s body of work, one must go to the library and read the original reports in their full detail. For those who have yet to enjoy that experience, here is a quick, and rather haphazard, sampling of what to expect.

The Early Years
Trinkaus’s first published paper — a 1978 examination of the motivations of potential jurors — is of interest to scholars of that subject, of course, but it is also of larger significance. So far as we are aware, this was the first of his signature pieces — each modestly claiming to be an “Informal Look” at some dazzlingly under-explored subject. Even at this early stage of his career, Trinkaus was conducting multiple lines of research, and publishing on an unusual variety of topics.

* * *



(1) “Jury Service: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 43, no. 3, part 1, December 1978, p.788.

Used participant observation to study 56 potential jurors... Results support the contention of W. Pabst et al. (1976) that potential jurors are divided into those who do and those who do not want to serve.

(2) “Workers’ Arrivals and Departures: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 44, no. 2, April 1979, p. 554.

Suggests that rank-and-file employees do not arrive at the workplace much before the starting time and depart as quickly as possible after the quitting time. Owner-managers, conversely, arrive early and leave late. These assumptions were supported by informal observations of the arrival and departure of ”luxury” cars, assumed to belong to the owner-managers, and ”economy” cars, assumed to belong to the employees, at a suburban industrial parking site.

(3) “Buyers’ Price Perception at a Flea Market: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 46, no. 1, February 1980, p. 266.

Investigated whether buyers at flea markets would display a high degree of price awareness. An informal inquiry showed this not to be the case.

(4) “Preconditioning an Audience for Mental Magic: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 51, no.1, August 1980, p. 262.

(5) “Honesty at a Motor Vehicle Bureau: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 51, no. 3, part 2, December 1980, p. 1252.

Assessed the veracity of people taking vision tests at a district office of a motor vehicle bureau....
Results suggest that, when given an option, a sizeable percentage of people may well elect a style of behavior that is neither completely honest nor dishonest.

An Approach to Stop Lights
In the early 1980s, Trinkaus had begun to look, albeit informally, at several of the themes to which he would return time and again. Attaché cases, beverage container return behavior, behavior in a commuter railroad passenger station — all made their first appearance during this period. 1982 saw the first Trinkaus paper on stop sign compliance. That opened the door to stop lights, and also to parking regulation compliance.

Curiously, the first of Trinkaus’s “Another Look” series — the 1982 report “Biorhythms: Another Look,” was (so far as we have been able to determine) the very first paper he published about biorhythms. As such, it is a charming anomaly. Each of the subsequent “Another Look”s — 1983’s “Stop Sign Compliance — Another Look,” for example — marked a return to one or another subject on which Trinkaus had already established a solid record of publications.

Trinkaus was to revisit the stop sign question over and again, with “... Another Look” in 1983, “... A Further Look” in 1988, “...A Follow-Up Look) in 1993, and “...A Final Look” in 1997.

* * *

(6) “Stop Sign Compliance: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 50, no. 1, February 1982, p. 288.

[A]n informal longitudinal study was conducted in a suburban metropolitan New York community. Results suggest a decline in the frequency of driver compliance.

(7) “Biorhythms: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, A. Booke, Psychological Reports, vol. 50, no. 2, April 1982, pp. 396-8.

Analyzed 881 motor vehicle accident reports... A uniform distribution of accidents across stages in biorhythmic cycles was found, casting doubt on the validity of biorhythmic theory.

(8) “Carrying Document Cases: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 51, no. 2, October 1982, p. 430.

Observed people carrying document cases leaving a railroad station during morning rush hour. Observations were made at the 4 major exits, 1 exit/day for 4 days. 500 observations were made each day. About 1 out of 5 people carried such a case, and 71.8% were men. Results suggest that the act of carrying a document case is a status symbol. However, considerations of functional utility also have importance.

(9) “Arcade Video Games: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 52, no. 2, April 1983, p. 586.

Observed the activity at 5 Pac-Man games and 6 Ms. Pac-Man games in a commuter railroad passenger station in New York City during the morning rush hour (0700-0930), lunchtime (1130-1200), and the evening rush hour (1600-1830). 75 30-min nonrepetitive viewings were conducted. During observation, all machines were constantly in use. There were 8 male for every 3 female players; players usually played 2 sessions in the morning and at lunch but 3 sessions in the evening.

(10) “Stop-Light Compliance —An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 57, no. 3, December 1983, p. 846.

(11) “Stop Sign Compliance — Another Look,” Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 57, no. 3, December 1983, p. 922.

(12) “Human Communications: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, D. Recht, K. Shyman, Psychological Reports, vol. 53, no. 2, October 1983, p. 374.

Studied whether 750 riders of low-speed self-service elevators were inclined to respond with short utterances when 1 of 2 questions was asked of them: ”Is this car going up?” or ”Is this car going down?” Results indicate that Ss tended to limit their communications...

(13) “Compliance with Parking for Handicapped: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 58, no. 1, February 1984, p. 114.

Observed the compliance with handicapped parking regulations at a suburban neighborhood shopping center.... 30 citings of convenience were taken... Findings show that in the absence of police enforcement, general observance of parking restrictions... was normally practiced only when convenient.

(14) “Returnable Beverage Containers: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 58, no. 2, April 1984, p. 550.

Observed the practice of patrons, on leaving a 146-seat cafeteria-style pizzeria, in returning bottles and cans for a refund of a state-mandated beverage-container deposit of $.05. 40 convenience viewings were made at the rate of 1/day, and 20 Ss were observed during each period.... Findings suggest that the contention that people are not economic beings is accurate at the $.05-level.

Matters of the Mall
Trinkaus’s first publication of 1984 had introduced his readers to an innovation they would come to relish. There, for the first time, the author described research he had conducted in or near a shopping mall.

Almost immediately, he extended his inquiries, while simultaneously delving further into mysteries related to parking. And he continued adding new topics to his research portfolio.

* * *

(15) “Shopping Mall Parking Violations: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 59, no. 1, August 1984, p. 30.

Studied violations of handicapped parking space at a shopping mall to determine the ratio of expensive to inexpensive vehicles in improper parking spaces. The proportion of improperly parked expensive to inexpensive cars in handicapped driver spaces was about the same as that of all conveyances using the lot. It is suggested that parking violations are more a function of prevailing cultural norms than of automobile purchase prices.

(16) “Merchandise Fads of Yesteryear: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 55, no. 2, October 1984, pp. 401-2.

Administered a questionnaire to 720 business undergraduates asking 4 questions (e.g., Do you own one?) about 14 product fads in the US, 1772 to 1975. Results show that Ss had a relatively fair recollection of the items. Of those Ss who remembered the items, only a relatively few had, or still have, ownership.

(17) “Societal Activities and the Handicapped: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 59, no. 2, October 1984, p. 526.

TV game shows broadcast in one urban area over a 6-mo period were observed to determine the
number of contestants who appeared to be disabled (i.e., displaying an inability to walk or stand
unaided or sight or hearing deficits).... It is suggested that the handicapped may shun such events
because they have been conditioned to believe that they are unable to cope for themselves or compete with others.

(Image credit: Ndungukamau)

(18) “A Bottle Law: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 59, no. 3, December 1984, p. 806.

Conducted observations before and after the passage of a 1983 statute that mandated the payment of a deposit of returnable soft-drink cans and bottles.... Approximately 47 bottles and cans were observed along a block-long path of a city park each day prior to the statute and approximately 2 each day 1 yr later.

(19) “Stop-Light Compliance: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 59, no. 3, December 1984, p. 814.

[R]eplicat[ed] J. Trinkaus’s (1983) 45 1-hr observations of a major traffic intersection... [R]esults show that violation of stop-light compliance rose 15% since Trinkaus’s study... Possible factors contributing to increased violations are discussed.

Time Hangs Heavy?
1985 was the year Trinkaus’s publications began to show a deep interest in, and appreciation of, the questions of waiting, obstruction, and delay. The next few years also saw seminal work dealing with bicyclists, with the mental constructs of business students, and, of course, with additional new subjects.

* * *

(20) “Waiting Times in Physicians’ Offices: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 61, no. 1, August 1985, p. 162.

(21) “Yielding the Right of Way: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills , vol. 61, August 1985, p. 222.

(22) “Stop-light Compliance by Cyclists: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 61, no. 3, part 1, December 1985, p. 814.

Observed cyclists’ observance of stoplights at major traffic intersections in a large city. Results suggest that most cyclists stop only when safe passage through the intersection is not possible.

Examined whether 750 undergraduates felt that cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are detrimental to a user’s health. Females appeared to perceive CRTs as less hazardous than did males. Also, the older the group, the greater the tendency to feel the terminals were dangerous.

(23) “Perceived Hazard of Video Display Terminals: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 62, no. 1, February 1986, p. 118.

Examined whether 750 undergraduates felt that cathode ray tubes (CRTs) are detrimental to a user’s
health. Females appeared to perceive CRTs as less hazardous than did males. Also, the older the
group, the greater the tendency to feel the terminals were dangerous.

(24) “Disclosure of a Physical Disability — An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 62, no. 1, February 1986, pp. 157-8.

(25) “Husbands With Working Wives: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 63, no. 3, December 1986, p. 1190.

Examination of the employment pattern of 351 couples appearing as contestants on a TV quiz program showed 68% of employed husbands had an employed wife...

(26) “Contemporary Opinions of Business Issues: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 64, no. 1, February 1987, pp. 237-8.

Data from 491 undergraduate and 167 graduate students of a school of business showed lack of congruence of opinion on contemporary issues... with that of 2,750 practitioners in the business world.

(27) “How Business Students and Faculty Quantify Probability Expressions: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 65, no. 1, August 1987, p. 157-8.

Examined the quantitative equivalents... associated with qualitative expressions concerning the probability of attainment of a course grade. Findings suggest that students displayed a wider variation in their perception than did faculty.

(28) “Stop-light Compliance by Cyclists: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 66, no. 1, February 1988, p. 158.

An increase in cyclists’ compliance with stoplights over levels previously observed by the present author is attributed to enhanced traffic enforcement by the New York City Department of Transportation.

(29) “Yielding the Right of Way — Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 67, no. 2, October 1988, p. 622.

(30) “Name Recognition — An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 67, no. 2, October 1988, p. 646.

(31) “Stop Sign Compliance — A Further Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 67, no. 2, October 1988, p. 670.

(32) “How Business Students and Faculty Quantify Probability Expressions: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 68, no. 1, February 1989, pp. 97-8.

Using a set of codified human resource management expressions, it was shown that 45 faculty and 148 college students, when discussing qualitative probabilities associated with accepting job offers, differed in their understanding as to what was being said.

(33) “Business Manners — An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 68, part 3, June 1989, pp. 945-6.

Motoristsʼ Use of Sirens
As the 1990s approached, Trinkaus addressed new, and increasingly serious, matters of public concern.

Noise, health, recognition, and queasiness characterized the next phase of his work. Nevertheless, driving, parking, and matters of compliance were never wholly absent from his mind, or at least one might infer that by a look at some of the papers published during this period. New topics continued to appear, as well.

* * *

(34) “Motorists’ Use of Sirens: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 68, part 3, June 1989, p. 1190.

(35) “Estimating Costs of Diagnostic Medical Procedures: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 69, no. 1, August 1989, pp. 137-138.

(Image credit: w:en:User:Dev920)

(36) “Opening an Attaché Case: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 69, October 1989, p. 618.

(37) “Contemporary Opinions on Health Issues: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 69, no. 3, part 1, December 1989, pp. 867-71.

(38) “Name Recognition: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 69, no. 3, part 2, December 1989, p. 1298.

760 business students responded to a survey [various prominent people].... Results corroborated previous findings by Trinkaus (1988).

(39) “Contemporary Opinions on Health Issues: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 70, no. 1, February 1990, pp. 97-8.

(40) “Misgivings About AIDS Transmission: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, M. Chow, Psychological Reports, vol. 66, no. 3, part 1, June 1990, p. 810.

Surveyed 435 college freshmen about whether they would eat cookies baked by a recently discharged acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) patient. Compared with 45 medical doctors (G. Wormser and C. Joline, 1989), students were more accepting.

(41) “Thinking With Numbers: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 70, no. 3, part 1, June 1990, pp. 957-8.

(42) “Queasiness: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, M. Chow, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 70, part 2, June 1990, pp. 1393-4.

Out Which Way
Exits, and questions of quantification — especially in the supermarket — blazed forth as featured subjects of Trinkaus’s research in the early 90s. So, too, did cellular telephone use by drivers, the use of attaché case locks, and the puzzle of color preference in sport shoes. And there were, of course, other new topics added to the publication mix.



* * *

(43) “Defining the Supermarket ‘Item’: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 71, August 1990, p. 350.

(44) “Exiting a Building: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 71, October 1990, p. 446.

(45) “Exiting: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 71, no. 3, part 2, December 1990, pp. 1317-8.

Confirmed J. Trinkaus’s (1990) study which showed that students preferred to exit via an open door. Most of about 102 persons per 201 train arrivals observed on 25 occasions chose an open vs a closed door to exit a train station.

(46) “Usage of Cellular Telephones: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 71, no. 3, part 2, December 1990, pp. 1375-6.

(47) “The Lodging Discount Coupon: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 72, February 1991, p. 18.

(48) “The Attaché Case Combination Lock: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 72, April 1991, p. 466.

(49) “Business Students’ Feelings About the Academy and Themselves: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 72, no. 2, April 1991, pp. 699-702.

(50) “Medications and Information for Patients: A Quick Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 68, no. 3, part 1, June 1991, pp. 911-4.


(51) “Color Preference in Sport Shoes: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 73, no. 2, October 1991, pp. 613-4.

659 of 1,937 women (34%) and 193 of 2,794 men (7%) observed at a railway terminal on 5 workdays were wearing sport shoes. Of them, 659 (34%) of the women and 152 (79%) of the men were wearing white sport shoes. It is unclear whether this predominance of white reflects a genuine preference for the color or merely mirrors the color range available. The greater incidence of women wearing sport shoes suggests that women’s business shoes may not be as comfortable for walking as men’s.

(52) “Changing Multiple-Choice Test Answers: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 69, no. 3, part 1, December 1991, pp. 769-70.

442 undergraduates responded to the following question: Do you believe that changing your initial
answers on a multiple-choice test will probably lower your score? ... Results are congruent with the findings of M. Greiger.

The Celebrated Brussels Sprouts
Late in 1991, Trinkaus caught a sizeable portion of the world’s attention with his informal look at taste preference for Brussels sprouts. His nearly simultaneous informal examination of the fruit and vegetable components of business students’ diets was rather overlooked in the hoopla.

(Image credit: Flickr user Clay Larsen)

So great and long-lasting was the glare from the Brussels sprouts, that much of the world simply did not notice Trinkaus’s equally fine work over the next several years on stop sign compliance, on commuter train line service irregularity, on a short-lived commuter parking lot crowd, and in 1993’s remarkable “Compliance With the Item Limit of the Food Supermarket Express Checkout Lane: An Informal Look.”

It was not until October, 1993 that things calmed down enough for people to see what was plain before them. It was at that point that Trinkaus served up his breakthrough paper about the behavior of people swimming laps in a pool.

* * *

(53) “The Fruit and Vegetable Component of Students’ Diets: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus,
Psychological Reports, vol. 69, part 1, December 1991, pp. 844-6.

An informal inquiry of 442 business students as to their consumption of fruits and vegetables showed that, while these foods are normally consumed daily, the number of servings per day was generally less than that recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

(54) “Taste Preference For Brussels Sprouts: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, K. Dennis, Psychological Reports, vol. 69, no. 3, part 2, special issue, December 1991, pp. 1165-6.

Conducted an inquiry of the taste preference of 442 baccalaureate business students for brussels sprouts. Results reveal about a 50% dislike of the vegetable, a 40% indifference, and a 10% liking.

(55) “Contrasting Departure Service of Commuter Railroad Trains: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 74, no 1, February 1992, pp. 169-70.

50 convenience observations over the course of 12 mo suggest that the quality of passenger service provided by a commuter railroad varies among train lines.

(56) “Perceptions About the Constitutionality of Health Care: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 75, no. 3, part 2, December 1992, pp. 1193-4.

(57) “Some Students’ Perceptions About AIDS: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 75, no. 3, part 2, December 1992, pp. 1344-6.

(58) “Stop Sign Compliance: A Follow-Up Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 76, no. 3, part 2, June 1993, p. 1218.

Analysis of 324 observations at an intersection previously studied by J. Trinkaus (1988) showed a
continuing decrease in full stops with increased rolling and no stops...

(Image credit: Flickr user Chris Chan)

(59) “Compliance With the Item Limit of the Food Supermarket Express Checkout Lane: An Informal Look,” J.Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 73, no. 1, August 1993, p. 105-6.

75 15-min observations of customers’ behavior at a food supermarket showed that only about 15% of shoppers observed the item limit of the express lane.... Results indicate a tendency not to play by the rules in the absence of meaningful real or imagined constraints.

(60) “An Informal Look at a Short-Lived Commuter Parking Lot Crowd,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 77, no. 2, October 1993, pp. 449-50.

Daily observations traced informal commuter action in using a newly cleared unposted field for
station parking. During approximately 10 wks from the time the space became available until it was closed off (by fencing) a number of conventional characteristics of crowd behavior were evidenced.

(61) “Swimming Laps: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 73, no. 2, October 1993, pp. 665-6.

An informal inquiry consisting of 105 observations suggests that, when given a choice, most swimmers opted to swim laps in shallow rather than deep water.

Caps, Chapel Attendance, and Perceptions of Ground Beef
The years 1994 and 1995 were an especially fruitful period for Trinkaus. His April, 1994 paper on baseball-type caps brought him recognition of unprecedented reach and scope. And that was just the beginning. Many of the topics on which he published during this golden period — including several entirely new ones — are of interest to specialists and generalists alike.

* * *

(62) “Wearing Baseball-Type Caps: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 74, no. 2, April 1994, pp. 585-6.

Observed 407 people wearing baseball-type caps with the peak in back in the downtown area and on 2 college campuses (1 in an inner borough and 1 in an outer borough) of a large city. About 40% of students in the downtown area and at the inner-borough college wore the cap with the peak to the rear, while about 10% of the outer-borough college students had the peak to the rear.

(63) “Television Station Weather-Persons’ Winter Storm Predictions: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 79, no. 1, part 1, August 1994, pp. 65-6.

(64) “Cable Television Home-Shopping Stations and Disabled Persons: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 79, no. 1, part 1, August 1994, pp. 185-6.

(65) “Cutting Corners: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 79, no. 3, part 1, December 1994, pp. 1089-90.

Presents data demonstrating that motorists are increasingly violating traffic laws by cutting through store parking areas to avoid stop signals and bypass slow-moving traffic. An informal inquiry at 2 heavily trafficked intersections suggested a rate of occurrence that ranged from about 2 per hour to approximately 1 every 2 hrs.

(66) “Drop-In Chapel Attendance: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 75, no. 3, part 1, December 1994, pp. 1193-4.

(67) “Some Perceptions of Shoppers About Uncooked Ground Beef: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 81, no. 1, August 1995, pp. 32-4.

An informal poll of 100 shoppers suggested that the freshness of hamburger meat is judged by its
color.... Six telephone inquiries made to the United States Department of Agriculture revealed that
oxygenation led to color changes in still consumable beef.

(Image credit: Flickr user Maury McCown)

(68) “Compliance With a School Zone Speed Limit: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 82, no. 2, April 1996, pp. 433-4.

Observance of 2,105 vehicles passing a suburban elementary school showed that about 90% were exceeding the posted speed limit. This finding lends support to the conventional wisdom that motorists’ compliance with traffic regulations is relatively low.

(69) “Wearing Baseball-Type Caps: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus and Maria Divino, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 82, no. 3, Part 1, June 1996, p. 754.

Another look on two college campuses at the practice of wearing baseball-type caps with the peak in the back showed a decline in the inner city school and an increase in the suburban school.

(70) “Delays in Clearing the Self-Service Store Check-Out Counter: An Informal Look,” John Trinkaus and Maria Divino, Psychological Reports, vol. 80, no. 2, April 1997, pp. 508-10.

(71) “The Demise of ‘Yes’: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 84, no. 3, part 1, June 1997, p. 866.

For affirmative responses to simple interrogatories, the use of ”absolutely” and ”exactly” may be
becoming more socially frequent than ”yes.” A counting of positive replies to 419 questions on several TV networks showed 249 answers of ”absolutely,” 117 ”exactly,” and 53 of ”yes.”

Heavy Going, With Integrity and Gloves
After the glitter of the baseball-type-cap years, Trinkaus concentrated on what some might consider heavy going — a renewed, concentrated examination of stop sign compliance and a first look at left-turning traffic, as well as side-explorations of the use of the word “integrity,” of behavior concerning bakery department tongs and tissues, and of certain aspects of the concept of disappearing gloves. The first publication of this period was Trinkaus’s first — and to date only — “Final Look” paper.

* * *

(72) “Stop Sign Compliance: A Final Look,” J. Trinkhaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 85, no 1, August 1997, p. 217.

(73) “Conversational Usage of ‘Integrity’: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 86, no. 2, April 1998, pp.585-6.

Investigated the use of the noun ”integrity” in social conversation. A counting of its employment during 67 half-hr television talk shows showed 7 instances. The author concludes that the use of the word is fading.

(74) “Compliance With a School Zone Limit: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 87, no. 2, October 1998, pp. 673-4.

Replication of a study (J. Trinkaus, 1996) conducted three years earlier as to the rate of drivers’ compliance with the posted speed limit of a school zone showed a decline from about 11% to 8%.

(75) “An Informal Look at Left-Turning Traffic,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 87, no. 2, October 1998, pp. 701-2.



(76) “An Informal Look at Use of Bakery Department Tongs and Tissues,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 87, no. 3, part 1, December 1998, pp. 801-2.

Of 108 people observed extracting for purchase rolls or pastries from displayed bulk stock in food supermarket bakery departments, about 90% used their hands for item selection and withdrawal rather than the store provided tongs. In stores where tissues were provided instead of tongs, approximately 60% of the 133 people who were observed used their hands.

(77) “School Zone Limit Dissenters: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 88, no. 1, part 1, June 1999, p. 1056.

(78) “Gloves as Vanishing Personal ‘Stuff’: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 84, no. 3, part 2, June 1999, p. 1187.

Presents an informal discussion on the mystery of vanishing personal ‘stuff’ such as gloves. Definition of ‘personal stuff’ and its distinct categories; Author’s analysis on disappearing gloves.

Women in Vans
The year 1999 saw the first publication that mentioned Trinkaus’s eye-opening discoveries about women driving vans. This particular paper was, in other respects, a continuation of, and elaboration on, his work on stop sign dissenters.

As ever, the progression of new topics continued apace, as did the further elaboraton of many matters begun in earlier times.

(79) “Stop Sign Dissenters: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 89, no. 3, part 2, December 1999, pp. 1193-4.

Observations were made at the same 4 T-junction intersections in a residential community in the
suburbs of a large northeastern city. Two characteristics were selected for viewing: type of vehicle and sex of driver. Data for 8 90-min observations suggest an overall compliance rate of about 6% with stop signs in a residential community. Women driving vans were the least compliant—approximately 1%.

(80) “Buzzwords in Campaign 2000 as Possible Rank Index of Contemporary Social Issues: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 88, no. 2, April 2001, pp. 365-6.

(81) “Left Turning Traffic Procrastinators: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 90, no. 3, part 1, June 2000, pp. 961-2.

A total of 56 1-hr observations were made. The results indicate that operators of lead vehicles moved out more slowly when someone was waiting behind them, especially women driving vans. These data confirm the results of an earlier study (J. Trinkaus, 1998).

(image credit: Flickr user Douglas Porter)

(82) “Blocking the Box: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 89, no. 2, October 2001, pp. 315-6.

Data for 32 1-hr. observations in a residential community showed about 200 violations of a traffic
regulation requiring motorists to keep intersections clear. Women driving vans were the least compliant — accounting for approximately 40% of the total.

(83) “Diversity and the Handicapped: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 89, no. 2, October 2001, pp. 369-70.

Data for viewings of 58 television game shows suggests none of the 157 observed contestants to be physically handicapped.

(84) “Compliance With the Item Limit of the Food Supermarket Express Checkout Lane: Another Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 91, no. 3, part 2, December 2002, pp. 1057-8.

(85) “Shopping Center Fire Zone Parking Violators: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 95, no. 3, part 2, December 2002, pp. 1215-6.

Data for 33 1-hr. observations at a shopping center in a suburban location showed about 700 violations of a traffic regulation prohibiting parking in a fire zone. Women driving vans were the least compliant — accounting for approximately 35% of the total.

(86) “Students’ Course and Faculty Evaluations: An Informal Look,” J. Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, vol. 91, no. 3, part 2, December 2002, p. 988.

For one class, over 8 consecutive semesters, about 10% of the students completing a course and faculty evaluation form reported one or more session cancellations, while in actuality there were none.

Into the Future
One could speculate on which new directions Trinkaus will explore, and which of his many existing interests will be given new illumination. Perhaps most intriguingly, one could wonder which of those well-studied subjects might be accorded the honor of a Final Look.

But to guess at any of these things would be pointless. If history is any guide, John Trinkaus will continue to surprise us. We can but marvel at the tenacity of his apparently boundless, and wonderfully curious, enthusiasm.

_____________________

This article is republished with permission from the the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.


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