I’ve linked to this kind of thing before, back in 2015. It’s still quite interesting, though.
Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work
According to Langer, placebo buttons have a net positive effect on our lives, because they give us the illusion of control — and something to do in situations where the alternative would be doing nothing (which explains why people press the elevator call button when it’s already lit).
“Thermal comfort research demonstrates that when people have perceived temperature control over their spaces, some may tolerate higher levels of discomfort,” said Bean.
“If a non-functioning (placebo) thermostat or limited function thermostat is installed, just having the option to manipulate it can affect one’s perception.”
Dummy thermostats — those not wired into the system at all — can also be found in offices, according to Donald Prather of Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
“(They) were placed there to quiet a constant complainer by giving them control,” he said in an email. “As an engineering trainee I was sent to calibrate one. When I asked why they had me calibrate a thermostat that was not hooked up, they panicked and asked if I told the occupant it wasn’t hooked up.
“After assuring them I hadn’t spilled the beans, they admitted that, by not telling me it was disconnected, they thought I would put on a more realistic calibration show.”
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