Taylor Swift Has Primed Us All

HowTaylor Swift Has Primed Us AllHave you heard the Taylor Swift song “Blank Space”?

If you’re like me, you may have noticed Taylor’s shout-out to Starbucks. The song goes:

All the lonely Starbucks lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game

Except . . . it doesn’t. That first line, apparently, is “Got a long list of ex-lovers.” Yet, a lot of people, myself included, hear the reference to Starbucks.

The New York Magazine article I linked above suggests that people mishear the Swift lyric because of “expectations.” In fact, people might expect Swift to sing about Starbucks given her documented love of their beverages:

Look at what she's drinking!
Look at what she’s drinking!

You can pull this back to an even more basic level. In psychology, the idea of priming is when a trigger outside of your consciousness influences your behavior. Examples include people who walk more slowly after seeing subliminal flashes of words related to old age, or people exposed to negative stereotypes of the elderly having worse memory than people exposed to more positive stereotypes.

I’d submit that Ms. Swift may have primed us all with her frequent appearances at Starbucks locations and her avowed love for their beverages. I know very little about the woman, but I knew she loved Starbucks. Heck, earlier this week I found myself reading an article where a reporter copied Swift’s diet, heavy on the pumpkin spice lattes.

Swift’s psychological pairing of herself with Starbucks has been thorough, yet the many references to her S’bucks habits have quickly become lost amid all of the search results referring to her now legendary misheard lyrics. We see photos of her with the easily recognizable Starbucks cup, or read a story that casually mentions her dropping by a shop, and the next thing you know, we’re hearing phantom references to the coffee chain in lyrics where they make no sense and the Internet is going nuts about it.

The crazy thing in my case is that I’m decidedly not up on Taylor Swift gossip. I couldn’t necessarily have told you she was a “Starbucks lover” (at least not until I read that diet article earlier this week, after I had heard the song many times) but I never doubted for a second that was the phrase in the song. Such is the power of the subliminal mind.

Well played, Taylor. You still sometimes sound like a goat.