But the students confessed that they had grossly overestimated how often they would use their new acquisition. Meanwhile, 118 observers had been recruited to see if they could make a better estimate of how often the students would use their new toys.
Some of the observers were told what each participant had predicted. And here's the curious wrinkle: the observers were far more accurate than the students in predicting how often the new item would be used. They downgraded the students' predictions, possibly because they had been there themselves and had a lot of stuff collecting dust in their own homes.
"The informed observers took the recipient's predictions and poured salt on them," Vietri said.
Other observers were not told of the students predictions, and they were no more accurate in their predictions than the students themselves.
The conclusion: Even a stranger knows better than you if what you are wishing for will end up in the trash bin.
However, as a social psychologist who once lusted after a salad spinner, Vietri knows it's hard to change human nature. And by the way, there's a dusty salad spinner in my attic if anyone needs one.