Local businesses often stick their business cards or rolled up flyers in my front screen door. We find advertisements for the typical homeowner services, like landscaping, new windows, or security systems.
But as the weather cooled, my desert willow lost its leaves, and I began to pull up the beautiful, mature plants in my front yard and replace them with young shrubbery, I noticed an increase in the amount of landscaping-specific advertisements left in my door. In other words, as the yard didn't look so nice anymore, more businesses were reaching out to offer their services. I asked my family if they thought, by businesses offering their services, they were essentially telling us our yard looks like junk, without coming out and actually saying it.
In order to empirically determine if our yard was the victim of advershaming (See what I did there? Advertising + shaming?), my junior research assistant and I began collecting preliminary data. On days we received such advertisements, we walked down the street and back to determine if other neighbors did, in fact, receive the same advertisements. Most of my neighbors have fantastic landscapes. If they were receiving the same advertisements, we determined, it's possible companies are just advertising to our neighborhood, regardless of perceived yard quality. But if few other houses have these advertisements, it's possible we are, in fact, being advershamed.
This examination brought to light several variables we initially had not taken into account. The presence of a screen door, for example. (As in, someplace to stick the advertisement.) Whether a person has grass or desertscape. (We are only one of a few houses on the street to have a grass yard.) What time a person returns from work and may have already removed the advertisement stuck in their door. Wind speed and the possibility that advertisements blew away.
We shall continue to collect data, controlling for these variables. A heads up to my neighbors: If you see us squinting while looking at your front door, I assure you, it's for scientific purposes.