By CHRIS KIRKUKIS/REUTERS A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests the world is more likely to encounter a giant bean bag, which can measure nearly 100 feet long and weigh more than five tons, in the real world than it is to encounter them in the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
The research, conducted by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, looked at the prevalence of the giant beanbag in China and the United States.
While it is commonly believed that the beanbag is only seen in China, the researchers found that in the United Kingdom it is found in nearly two-thirds of households, compared to only 17 percent in China.
In fact, while the study found that Americans were more likely than Chinese to see giant beanbags in public, the number of Chinese living in the U.S. was significantly lower.
“In terms of the prevalence, we found that the prevalence is in the range of 10 percent of households in China,” said study co-author Jan Wysocki, a PhD student at the Institute for Bioengineering and Systems Biology in the University of Cologne.
“The prevalence of giant bean bags in the general population is inversely proportional to its size.”
The study also found that there were fewer giant bean-bags in Japan, which had the lowest prevalence of them in China but the highest in the US.
“I would argue that the Japanese giant bean is not only a novelty but also a source of anxiety in Japan,” Wysocksi said.
“It is not unusual for people to be fearful of the bean bags because they are often a reminder of the danger of large, unsupervised children.
It is a real concern for the Japanese.”
Wysockski said that although the prevalence may be high in the West, the beanbags are likely to be more common in China because it is the country that produces them.
“China has one of the most extensive and extensive bean-bagging systems in the whole world, but we found the same thing with the Chinese giant bean,” he said.
The study found the prevalence was even lower in India than in China: only 4 percent of the households in India had giant beanbagging, compared with 12 percent in the UK and 11 percent in Germany.
The researchers also looked at how beanbags are perceived.
“The giant bean may be perceived as an intrusion into human space, which makes people fearful of it,” said co-lead author Daniela Eberhardt, a postdoctoral fellow at the University’s Institute for Molecular Systems Biology.
“However, in China it is often perceived as a gift or an object of respect, so this may be an image of the comfort of a beanbag.”
This may explain why in the movies, a giant is not seen in public as much.
“The researchers say the findings suggest the bean-bag could be a way to “exploit a social taboo,” which they call the “human-induced stigma of the large.
“The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the University Hospital of Cologne’s Institute of Molecular Systems biology.