Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Suggestion To Dan Ariely: Experiment For Considerate Behaviour

I think that it is so important that we be considerate members of society. Consideration implies that we consider what the other person needs, and wants, and therefore make an effort to get along. I think that consideration is good because it helps us to deal with issues that are difficult to enforce.

Carry on, to read my suggestion that I made to Dan Ariely. He is the author of "Predictably Irrational", and "The Upside Of Irrationality".

Hi Dan. I hope that all is well with you. I hope that you are having a great weekend.

I suggest that you come up with some kind of experiment to see how powerful words are. A possible experiment would be to bring a participant into a room to do a 15 minute math test. The experimenter will hand the participant all the materials needed, plus a music player without any headphones, and encourage the participant to play something from a wide selection of music. Other "participants" will actually be examiners. 1 person will speak up, and politely say, "Please use headphones, or turn that off. Please be more considerate.". I think that it would be interesting to see how far people will go, even though they have been given permission to do this.

If we see somebody littering, then how influential will we be if we tell people, "Please pick that up, and throw it in a trash bin. Please be more considerate.". I'm sure that we won't get far, but I think that words can be powerful.

If I recall correctly, you come from Israel. Therefore, I'm sure that you can see some value in this, with respect to Nazi Germany. If more people had spoken out, then the outspoken people probably would have died, but the repercussions could have saved hundreds more, and perhaps thousands, or even millions. If everybody spoke up, until the bitter end, then I'm sure that Hitler would have lost popularity and power early on.

Therefore, this knowledge is most important for political and social change. Too often, I believe that writing a letter means nothing. I'd like to know how much of a difference it makes.

It would also be interesting to test the opposite. I would like to see an experiment that tries to find out how to strengthen that 1 individual with courage to speak out against an entire crowd. I can't imagine how can we do that. I will certainly get back to you, if I can imagine something.

In case you were wondering, I was inspired this evening on the way home. While I waited for a bus, a couple of girls came to the line up, and played their music out loud. Technically, they are allowed to this, according to the transit rules, but it really violates the spirit of the law. I didn't say anything, because I try to be as flexible as possible. We are not supposed to play music out loud, out of consideration for others. Talking out loud should be permitted, and it is. I like that because talking out loud is part of life, and it is hard to talk with somebody next to us, with earphones. On the bus ride, they continued to play it. I worked up the courage to politely tell her to turn it down. It took me 2 tries to get it as low as possible, and 1 of the girls spoke back to me. I reflected on it, because this situation could escalate, and nobody would be able to really do anything about it. I found that her back talk hurt my feelings. I was amazed because this girl meant nothing to me. I looked down on her, yet I wanted her to not be mad at me. I would never see her again, yet I still cared. From her perspective, I wasn't just another random sound. I was something that offended her. What would it take to force conformity on her [or at least make the situation as conducive as possible for considerate behaviour]? This answer should create a healthier society, because we wouldn't have to rely on an authority figure.

No matter what, thanks for your time.

Sincerely, & with thanks,
Eugene T.S. Wong

He has already replied to me, and said that this is a topic that interests him. Because he never mentioned anything about doing it himself, I assume that he is not going to conduct the experiment.

No comments:

Post a Comment