Thursday, October 29, 2009


Tonight I watched Derren Brown's Trick or Treat 2 (episode 2) again. It shows young children opening a box they've been asked not to. It also features a young woman who is asked not to press a button that would electrocute a kitten. Guess what? She presses the button. Just like you clicked on the link to get here, even though you were asked not to.

Is it possible that when 'those that know' implore us not to do the very thing that we know is wrong, we do it anyway?

Could that explain why John and Edward get votes for their toe-curling performances...

and why the BNP get votes for their toe-curling policies?

And why some organisations have great difficulty controlling staff behaviour?


Yorid Sandloe said...

That's it? No insight into why this happens? Perhaps links to more information on this phenomenon?
No point just identifying the thing ...what am I supposed to do with the info? Can anything be done with it? Can it help? Must it be avoided? How can it affect positive outcomes? or negative ones?
You should provide more it comes... clarity!
Just in case you, I'll add that you definitely shouldn't provide more clarity.

Mark Walsh said...

Good post and creative link through - have Tweeted "don't click on this link" - will let you know how many do :-)

All the best from Brighton,

Andrew Wilcox said...

Did they achieve their desired result in Question Time?

The Non-Nicks displayed their contempt for Nick. Nick failed IMHO in his attempt to defend his position.

Would this have been any different if the roles had been reversed. Jack Straw in the hot seat with 4 opponents of his views and record?

Yes there would have been a quarter of viewers? Worrying.

Here is my neutral summary of the Naughty Nick Show.

Unknown said...

We love to stick two fingers up at the establishment and relish their resulting discomfort... remember John Sergeant in Strictly? This explains the X-Factor voting.
As for Nick Griffin... we abhor bullying even if the victim is odious. The best way of killing off Nick Griffin in a hurry would be to make him a New Labour minister.

Chris Pearse said...

OK Yorid, having told me not to... I will try to: What I get from this is that telling people not to do things, from a position of authority, may inadvertantly encourage them doing it - and not just in a perverse 'screw the system' reaction. Referring to my previous blog below: Social Psychology for Doctors, extolling the positive alternative may be more effective than denouncing the negative. But that's pretty obvious from the post - why, is less so. Why did that woman press the button? Would she have done it if DB had just said: 'the cat will die if you push the button' instead of 'don't push the button'. One thing I am very clear on is that human behaviour is complex and what works for one person, often doesn't work for another.
Please don't tell me what you think the answers are...

Yorid Sandloe said...

now that's what I call a result ...thanks for the elaboration.
I would claim I clicked the button because I was skimming the email and automatically clicked a link at the buttom.
But then is it possible I subconciously read the correct text and automatically did the opposite ...this worries me.
I recently clicked a link on a trojan file even though I am fully aware of what they look like.
Again I thought perhaps I was just skimming and not paying enough attention I'm not so sure.
Maybe I just need more sleep and less coffee

Chris Pearse said...

Andrew - great application of Mind Manager. I wonder if this is telling us that no matter how powerful the rational position is, the emotional ground (which will be arational and possibly irrational) will hold sway? Now that both worries me and fascinates me at the same time.

Chris Pearse said...

John - I wonder if there's a territorial metaphor here. If we take up a position (think time and space here) and find everyone else there too, we'll move to a less crowded place. Maybe this happens in thought space too and is independent of the absolute rational position?

Tony Ranzetta said...

I will start dangerously with an assumption that will inevitably be challenged: in society we naturally group into those who aspire to lead fashion and those who follow fashion.

Having survived the scorn that this rather banal comment deserves, let us for a moment accept its truth and ask ourselves what does it mean to be a leader of fashion: to be non conformist, to innovate, to potentially take accepted or conventional wisdom and stretch it beyond recognition, often the leaders of fashion are seen as anti-social and even dishonest.

In the fashion or artistic world, the result can be truly memorable or genuinely horrific. In the political world it can be dangerous.

And here is the nub: if you asked most people if they want their musicians or politicians to lead opinion and to be creative, we would say yes ... the problem is that in so doing we attract people into both the arts and politics who seek to explore unchartered territory and taboo topics. And when we get what we ask for, we discover that sometimes their being unique or different is uncomfortable.

Why should something that is not populist become popular?

The answer could be that we all want to be explore our own uniqueness (part of our ID and ego and an opportunity to launch into a long discussion on existentialism, so moving quickly on) ... and so everyone of us has the propensity to declare this uniqueness by supporting an extreme viewpoint, donning strange clothing (especially as teenagers when we seek to demonstrate our independence from our parents), listening to hideous music, backing an apparently lost cause.

Some of us are aware we are doing this merely to demonstrate our differences and can therefore recover our equilibrium, whilst others fall into the trap of genuinely thinking they really do like this stuff.

Yorid asks should it be avoided: my answer is that it should NOT because in so doing we potentially limit creativity and innovation (this is the wheat we will discard with the chaff if we try and regulate against independent mindedness).

Instead, we must aspire to mitigate the damage done by those who are less self aware and who cling to non-conformist views regardless of the evidence that these views are inappropriate.

The mitigation starts with an acceptance that all views, tastes or desires are born from our creativity and that it is positive to EXPLORE such views etc. BUT to then cling to these views is to stifle that creativity.

So we must encourage those who hold extreme views in the belief that holding an extreme view is defeating the very creativity that enabled those views to be voiced in the first place.

For the twins, this means congratulating their courage in singing in public with so little talent and then suggesting they need to move on to a new discovery (preferably exploring trapism).

In the case of Nick, we all need to ask what is the future for the BNP, as too much of the discussion on BBC seemed to be anchored in its inglorious past. Has the BNP anything new to offer in terms of politics for the future ... a question neither asked adequately nor addressed in the public bear baiting to which we were subjected.

Nick did not defend his position (it was indeed indefensible) but I doubt if the programme changed the views of those who voted for him either, especially if they aspire to support lost causes!

Chris Pearse said...

I quite agree Tony - a spluttering denunciation a la Jack Straw is far less effective than a genuine attempt to understand the ramifications of whatever position is under scrutiny. Re J & E - faint praise would have seen them off by now, I believe.