The French social scientist Claudia Fritz has examined, in various settings, the preferences of accomplished violinists for instruments made by old Italian masters like Stradivari. Everyone knows, if only from hearing of these incredibly valuable instruments being left in the backs of taxicabs, how lush and resonant they must sound, as if bestowed with some ancient, now lost magic. Who would not want to play one? But the expert musicians she has tested tend to prefer, under blind conditions, the sound of new violins.
In his book Strangers to Ourselves, Timothy Wilson has argued that we are often unaware why we respond to things the way we do; much of this behavior occurs in what he calls the “adaptive unconscious.”