So in a recent video, I spoke about a study on blame contagion that used a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The story detailed a failure of Schwarzenegger's when he was the Governor of California - in one version he took full responsibility for his failure, and in the alternate version he blamed other people.
The group exposed to this blame shifting were twice as likely to blame others for their personal mistakes.
And I wondered... how many times has Arnold Schwarzenegger been mentioned in scientific studies?
And then this question consumed me....
The answer... gets a little out of hand.
As I turned to Google Scholar, I figured there were probably a handful of political science papers on Schwarzenegger's time as governor, possibly some fitness or bodybuilding studies, and definitely a few things referencing his films.
I grossly underestimated the scientific impact of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
First of all, it turns out he's a great example for common problems in information and data sciences: like how do you know if a name in your database is a duplicate or if there are just two people with the same name?
Hint: Arnold Schwarzenegger is always a duplicate.
In a table of US citizens, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very rare name.
And strangely enough, he's also a helpful example because his name is so hard to spell.
What if someone is searching for Arnold S-H-W-A-R-T-Z-I-N-E-G-E-R?
How does your search know who they're talking about?
Well, there's a paper for that too, on how we can optimise search algorithms to look for results that are similar rather than exact matches.
To be honest, most of the information science and mathematical linguistics papers were very complex.
Automatic Fine-Grained Entity Typing by Hierarchical Partial-Label Embedding.
And luckily, they're just the tip of the iceberg.
Apart from just using his name, there seems to be a study looking at every part of Arnold's career - He's kind of done everything So what makes him such a popular choice to be used in research?
Schwarzenegger sits at the intersection of many cultural spaces and academic fields of study.
Also, he's just a fun example.
Looking at Arnold as a professional bodybuilder, he's mentioned in a paper talking about sarcopenia, or the degradation of muscles with age.
And he's also mentioned in a paper looking at the attractiveness of averages versus extremes.
Spoiler: Arnold "Sex Symbol" Schwarzenegger falls in the attractive extreme category.
And yes, the scientific paper calls him a sex symbol, so if that's confirmed by science He's also mentioned, unsurprisingly, in papers on nutritional supplements and anabolic steroids.
Even papers about very serious public health issues, like "the effect of body weight on adolescent academic performance" (It found that white teen girls who weigh more, perform worse in school.
For everyone else, it's complicated.)
Even papers about animal behavior throw in a mention of Arnold here and there, like "Biological effects of locomotor play: Getting into shape, or something more specific?"
(It turns out animals don't just play to get fit, it's also good for other things like motor learning).
The fact that I didn't find a paper called "Is Arnold Schwarzenegger Actually a Robot: A Multidisciplinary Approach" actually surprised me, but maybe I just didn't get far enough in the results.
ARNOLD: I'm a cybernetic organism.
VANESSA: Once he became an actor and a cultural icon in his own right, a lot of papers starting looking at Schwarzenegger's impact on culture as a whole.
"Do Movie Stars Encourage Adolescents to Start Smoking?
Evidence from California" found that yes, adolescents who prefer actors who smoke, or whose characters smoke, are more likely to pick up the habit themselves, and yes, Arnold is one of those celebrities.
Other papers looked at his impact on culture through the lens of his identity as masculinity-made-flesh.
Papers like "Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mister Universe?
Hollywood Masculinity And The Search Of The New Man" or "Gender and the Action Heroine: Hardbodies and the "Point of No Return"" look at what make our badass movie stars so badass, and how that relates to gender norms and culture as a whole.
As expected, there are lots of papers on "Arnie's" time as governor, a.k.a.
The governator, and the recall election during which he won office.
Papers like "Somebody versus nobody: An exploration of the role of celebrity status in an election" looked at how his fame impacted the election - participants showed a greater intention to vote for a candidate who was a recognizable Hollywood actor rather than an unknown candidate, regardless of the political information provided about the candidates.
And a bunch of papers that examine fame and politics from slightly different angles.
Others look at his political impact and surprisingly, most focus on his work as an environmentalist after he was governor.
"The Making of an Environmental Hero: A History of Ecomodern Masculinity, Fuel Cells and Arnold Schwarzenegger explores how Schwarzenegger's symbolic masculine persona expanded to include compassion and responsible care for the environment.
And "'Charismatic megafauna': The growing power of celebrities and pop culture in climate change campaigns" looks at how the un-endangered species of the modern celebrity is replacing the polar bear as the "charismatic megafauna" glamourising climate awareness.
More than anything - now you know that Ecomodern Masculinity and Charismatic Megafauna are phrases you can use in your everyday life.
And in psychology, naturally, there's the Arnold Schwarzenegger Effect.
Of course he has his own effect.
The study "The "Arnold Schwarzenegger Effect": Is strength of the "victim" related to misinterpretations of harm intrusions?"
looked at how we feel in response to a car accident involving an elderly man versus one involving a young, fit, able-bodied man, like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It found that when the victim is the Governator, we feel less distress, and weaker feelings of "moral wrongness" than we would if the victim was perceived to be more frail.
This is an especially important finding for doctors, who may misdiagnose or underweight pain reporting in patients who appear otherwise strong and healthy.
In neuroscience, one study asked memory-impaired individuals to imagine, with as much detail as possible, "Arnold Schwarzenegger interacting with a typewriter in an attic."
Another asked participants to play a pictionary style game and draw Schwarzenegger, among other celebrities.
And Arnie's face has been used as an example in a bunch of facial recognition experiments.
Once you're used in a famous faces test, you kinda walk into a lifetime of scientific analysis.
So at this point, I was on page 18 of the Google scholar search and realised there were A LOT of papers mentioning Arnold.
I hadn't quite trusted the accuracy of the initial search - it showed tens of thousands of results.
But we'd read more than 100 papers mentioning Arnold Schwarzenegger and... they just kept coming.
Well, based on the types of papers we'd seen come up, even if only 54% of the results are actual academic papers then there are approximately 15,000 papers that mention him.
If we flashed one title on screen every second, this video would run for more than four hours.
I told you it got out of hand.
So think of this video as the top hits - every study is contained with these search pages on Google Scholar.
Though, there are a few things that all 15,000 scientific studies have in common.
Obviously they all mention Arnold Schwarzenegger, but they do so for a reason.
From his name and image to his fame and cultural impact - he's a fascinating individual and a solid example.
And now he keeps getting used as an example in studies to ensure things can be replicated.
Science builds on science.
On top of that, people have a tendency to use celebrities and pop culture to make difficult ideas easier to digest.
We can be certain that no matter how many times Arnie says - "cya" "hasta la vista" "..." - in the world of academia, this father of Ecomodern Masculinity will always "be back".