July 6, 2013

Fake Realty Win: North Side of made-up city is “better”

Any reader of this blog knows that some parts of the Bay Area are just better than others, and that’s what we call the “Real Bay Area.” Do you know where the RBA is? According to this study, it’s probably north of you.

Study Points to Bias Toward a City’s North Side

People tend to see the north as more desirable and affluent, in turn fueling stereotypes about where the rich live

130705-north-mapBy Sanette Tanaka, The Wall Street Journal
SPREAD SHEET, July 4, 2013, 8:14 p.m. ET

North, south, east or west, researchers find north seems best.

Most people, knowing nothing else about a city, would rather live in the northern half of town than in the southern, says Brian Meier, associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. People tend to see the north as more desirable and affluent, in turn fueling stereotypes about where the rich and the poor live.

"For some reason, people see the north and south as very different," Prof. Meier says. "When all else is equal, people have this bias to think that northerly areas are better or more affluent.

Prof. Meier and co-authors Arlen Moller of Northwestern University, and Julie Chen and Miles Riemer-Peltz, both of Gettysburg College at the time, conducted four studies with groups ranging from 28 to 87 participants to see how "north" and "south" affects housing preferences. The study, "Spatial Metaphor and Real Estate: North-South Location Biases Housing Preference," was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science in August 2011.

130705-north-heatscWe’re going to note a fairly seriously flaw in this study (or at least Tanaka’s description of it) right off the bat: the participants aren’t identified in terms of where they live. We know what schools the researchers did the study out of, but this article doesn’t indicate if the participants were from the surrounding regions, randomly chosen throughout the United States, or were a worldwide sample. And that’s actually an important bit of data. How could they possibly assume that all people, everywhere, prefer the north side of a city when we don’t know if anyone from the Southern Hemisphere was represented? Maybe South is the “better side” in Buenos Aires, Melbourne, and Christchurch.  Maybe South is superior if you get too far north as well, as it would get more sun.  Northern exposure isn’t a good thing if you want sunlight.

130705-north-mapmvThis silly study suggests people are so used to thinking of north as “up” on a map, that they conflate the direction with the emotion. We’ve just found that prices keep heading north as long as you’re looking at the RBA.  Although the heat map of Santa Clara County above suggests that high prices are found not in the north, but the northwest and to a lesser degree, the northeast. North Central, though, does not impress..And the map at right shows sales for hot, hot, HOT Mountain View, hottest in the part that is the Exact Opposite Of North.

And… open thread! What direction are you heading to check out Open Houses this weekend? Or, if you’re on vacation and can’t stay away from us, what direction did you head for your getaway?

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:22 am

5 Responses to “Fake Realty Win: North Side of made-up city is “better””

  1. SEA Says:

    A love letter to the fog of the San Francisco Bay Area

  2. nomadic Says:

    We had a similar discussion here a couple of years ago and decided that west is “always” better than east.

  3. very amused Says:

    West Oakland.
    West New York.
    West Virginia.

    You were saying?

  4. nomadic Says:

    Hence “always” in quotes… Besides, nothing outside of CA matters, right?

    East Bay
    East Palo Alto
    Los Altos east of 280

  5. SEA Says:

    “Besides, nothing outside of CA matters, right?”

    True, as long as the RBA is within CA.

    False, when the RBA extends back to Seattle.


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