Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Guilty Pleasure

by Leann

One of my degrees is in behavioral science from the University of Houston. I loved my psychology courses but by far, I loved Social Psychology the best. According to Merriam and Webster the definition of this branch is this: the study of the manner in which the personality, attitudes, motivations, and behavior of the individual influence and are influenced by social groups.

Because of some seriously flawed social psychology experiments many years ago--experiments that involved things like subjects using electrical shocks on other subjects and probably the most famous
experiment where one group of subjects were designated as "prisoners" and another group was designated as "prison guards," it is now considered unethical to do this kind of experiments with human subjects. The outcomes of those experiments were a disaster.

Then reality TV came along. No rules, just volunteers looking to win--to win money, to win fame or to win love. I watched several of these shows with great interest. Survivor and The Bachelor come to mind. I have never watched even one episode of any "housewives" show or any of the MTV productions.  No Sister Wives, no dropped into the jungle "naked and afraid," either. I had grown
tired of reality shows aside from music competitions long ago. Where was the science? What were we learning except that folks might be more shallow than we ever thought possible?

Social psychology, after all, can teach us so much. For instance, a woman was murdered outside her apartment back in the late 60s while dozens of people heard the crime being committed and did nothing until it was too late. (The victim was Kitty Genovese).  Social psychology offers a valid explanation--that the more people witness a crime or an injustice, the less likely they are to do anything at all. (The "Bystander Effect.")That is why if you ever are helping someone in distress with a crowd present, it is important to point at an individual and say something like, "You. Call 9-1-1." Otherwise everyone around believes someone else will take care of it. That was one of the most important parts of the training I did when I was a CPR instructor way back when. Social psychology also helps us understand "mob violence." Not that we seem to be able to fix it.

But now there is a show on the Fyi network that has me hooked. It's called "Married at First Sight." I
called it "crazy" when I first read about it, but then I happened to see a review--a good review--and found out this is a TRUE social psychology experiment with psychologists, therapists, sociologists, and spiritual advisors involved. It's sure better than dating websites--one of which has so far has duped two people I know into cat-fishing scams. If I know TWO people, there has to be many, many more. The second season has just started and as a writer, there couldn't be a better show to watch for revealing human emotions for a younger age group. I am getting out of touch with that demographic more and more everyday! So I'm calling it research. Arranged marriages have been around for a long time, but not like this. Not with people matched on many different levels by experts using tests, in depth interviews and more. Ever watched it? Don't judge until you have. This is NOT Real Housewives of Anything! It's unique and interesting.
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