Advershaming: It probably wasn't a thing after all


In March 2018, I wrote this blog post about a potential connection I considered between the amount of business cards and flyers for landscape services I was finding stuck in my screen door, and my front yard's sub-par appearance. My junior research assistant and I began collecting data to determine if my household was, in fact, the victim of advershaming.

Between February 19, 2018, and yesterday, advertisements were left in my front door 43 times. Usually it was one advertisement per day, but sometimes it was as many as four. Of the 52 total advertisements left in my door, 28 (53.8%) were for landscape service providers. Regardless of the type of advertisement left in my door, I recorded how many days it had been since I last mowed my lawn. Then, my junior research assistant and I walked down our street to see if our neighbors had the same advertisements stuck in their doors, or if it really was just us. (Note: These are city streets, with small front plots and visible front doors.)

On average, there was no statistically significant difference between how many days had passed since I last mowed my front lawn, and whether the advertisement stuck in my door was for landscape services or something else (e.g., bug extermination, pool repair). In fact, time since I last mowed averaged higher for days I received non-landscape advertisements (M = 27.64, SD = 26.6) than for days I received landscape-specific advertisements (M = 15.15, SD = 16.6). If anything, my lawn looked better on days my household received offers for landscape services, than it did when it received offers from other types of services. But like I said, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups. I do not have reason to believe the number of days since I last mowed my lawn influenced the type of advertisement left in my door.

The presence of a lawn actually appears to be irrelevant. I am one of two houses (out of 27) on my street to even have grass in their front plot. Most opt for xeriscape or desertscape. Yet, the advertisements my household received showed up in neighbors' doors, too, regardless of landscape type.

So, it appears the connection between landscaping advertisements and poor lawn appearance was speculation. The major limitation of this analysis, though, is my sample size. Finding 52 ads stuck in my door during the last 15 months may seem like a lot, but it's not, statistically speaking. Several hundred would be better for statistical tests. A larger sample can show differences and nuances that smaller samples can not.

Also, it's possible "days since lawn was last mowed" isn't a good measure of lawn appearance. I discovered throughout this process that Bermuda grass can go a shockingly long time without being mowed, and still look decent. Not weeding the flowerbed or pruning the palm trees, on the other hand, would probably be more noticeable, and therefore, make for a more appropriate measure. However, they would also provoke the ire of my Home Owners Association, who would first give me a warning, then probably fine me.

So, for the time being, I don't plan on re-conceptualizing.

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