Researchers had participants sit in chairs at tables. Some sat in chairs that wobbled and tables that also wobbled, while some sat in sturdy chairs at sturdy tables.
Once in their chairs, participants were asked to judge the stability of the relationships of four celebrity couples: Barack and Michelle Obama, David and Victoria Beckham, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, and Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. They did this by rating how likely they thought it was, on a scale of one to seven, that a couple would break up in the next five years. A score of one meant “extremely unlikely to dissolve”. A score of seven meant “extremely likely to dissolve”.
- - - -
The results reveal that just as cold drinks lead to perceptions of social conditions being cold, tinkering with feelings of physical stability leads to perceptions of social instability. Participants who sat in wobbly chairs at wobbly tables gave the celebrity couples an average stability score of 3.2 while those whose furniture did not wobble gave them 2.5.