Ever wonder why you put a pair of socks in the wash — but when everything’s all clean and being sorted, you seem to only have one left?
Scientists recently developed a formula to solve the mystery of the missing sock. It considers a variety of factors, with the resounding reason for sock loss being our behavioural faults as human beings. Psychologist Simon Moore andsStatistician Geoff Ellis considered various elements when developing the formula for the lost sock.
And while their answer wasn’t a mischievous house elf hoarding single socks, they did find that the number of people in the household, as well as the size of the laundry load, took a toll on the future of your footwear. They surveyed roughly 2,000 people and discovered the following main factors: complexity of the load of laundry, colours sorted and the number of socks in each wash.
But when it comes to the actual sock loss, the scientists found we only have ourselves to blame.
Diffusion of responsibility, visual awareness, confirmation bias and behavioural errors of omission and commission are listed as the main reasons for sock loss. The diffusion of responsibility points its finger at those of us responsible for washing laundry who assume someone else will do it for us. When it comes to visual awareness, it shows our laziness, only checking the most obvious locations for our missing socks, and if no sock turns up, we assume it is lost forever. Confirmation bias basically means we believe what we want to believe, and that if there is an odd sock, its partner is gone forever. The nod to behavioural errors basically confirm our existence as imperfect humans, meaning it is in our nature to make mistakes – especially when it comes to laundry.
The survey, which was conducted as part of a British advertising campaign for Samsung washing machines, found that on average, people lose 1.3 socks a month. That’s a loss of roughly 1,260 socks in their lifetime.
Now how’s that for dirty laundry?