Being Carmen Miranda

More than 50 years after she last wore a pile of fruit on her head, Carmen Miranda inspired a psychological test.

Emily Balcetis, of Ohio University, and David Dunning, of Cornell University, published a study, in the journal Psychological Science, called Cognitive Dissonance and the Perception of Natural Environments. Balcetis and Dunning describe an experiment in which the test subjects “were taken outside to a highly trafficked, grassy quad at the centre of campus … The experimenter handed subjects a Carmen Miranda costume, including a grass skirt, coconut bra, hat adorned in plastic fruit, and flower lei. Subjects were told to put on the costume, walk the width of the quad alone, and return, before answering questions about their emotions and their experience…..

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.