Ever wonder why it’s June and every magazine in your dentist’s office has seven fun Christmas ideas? Well, wonder no more: it’s because people keep taking the new ones.
A study published in BMJ has found that people really, really like raiding waiting rooms for magazines, especially gossipy ones. Researchers placed eighty-seven magazines in the waiting room of a general practitioner. They were stacked into three mixed piles, and included non-gossipy magazines (like The Economist, National Geographic, and BBC History) along with gossipy magazines (which, in a fun phrase, were “not identified due to fear of litigation”). Gossipy, by the way, meant that the magazines had five or more photographs of celebrities on the cover. There was also a “most-gossipy” category, which meant a magazine with at least ten photographs of celebrities on the cover. Researchers marked each magazine with a unique number (unobtrusively on the back cover) and watched.
After thirty days, 47% of the magazines had disappeared. None of the nineteen non-gossipy magazines disappeared, compared with 96% (i.e., all but one) of the gossipy magazines, and all of the most gossipy magazines.
Basically, waiting rooms only ever have old magazines because people take them, and people really, really like taking trashy celebrity magazines, presumably because it’s too embarrassing to buy them.