This Article is About
word sentences
own pace
watching tv
half an hour
Do Beliefs Really Reflect Reality?
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Have you noticed that if you're reading a well written thriller or watching a very good thriller film on television, that the writer can, usually metaphorically, put you on the edge of your seat as you wonder what's going to happen to the hero?

A cleverly written piece can have you on edge until the last second. Then the hero dodges the bullet and things go quiet for a little while. Excitement over, so you sit back and your heartbeat returns to normal. So, is it possible to change someone's behaviour?

A pal of mine gave me a classic case of how this works, when he told me that he was riding one of those stationary bikes the other day, plodding along and thinking about how long half an hour can be. He was watching TV at the time, when suddenly the programme changed to a group of athletes running the 400 metres, or some such race.

They were really moving, obviously top athletes, and it wasn't until the programme ended that he realized his own pace had picked up and he was pedalling for all he was worth. As he said to me later, goodness knows what would have happened if he'd seem a film of some poor old people on zimmers!

A most interesting experiment was carried out by a psychologist named professor John Bargh. He chose some students on which to experiment, (rats weren't available, apparently!), the idea being to specifically programme their minds without their realizing it, and see the results.

The plan was for them to make correctly written, four word sentences, out of a set of words he gave them. From what the students could make out, these were entirely random. In reality, they were all directed to age. Words such as; Florida, grey, old, wrinkle, bingo, etc. The lines of words were pre-written, but these words regarding age were embedded in this apparently random group.

What he found was that the students walked from his classroom much more slowly than when they came in, even though they still had no idea what the test was all about. If you're exposed to a certain type of behaviour, either through words or deeds, you'll tend to copy this behaviour. This is what happens to so many teenagers.

They become so wrapped up in what they see on television, the things their 'heroes' do, that they follow this behaviour, rather than emulating their parents, unless their parents react in the same way.

Now this has been brought to your attention, whom do you surround yourself with? With whom do you mix? If you veer towards intelligent, well mannered people, then your own actions will tend to mirror them. If, on the other hand, you prefer to join the Hells Angels, then don't be surprised if their behaviour rubs off on you.

In short, watch who your friends are!

Street Talk

Thanks for sharing Mike. Something I had known, but often forget about, so appreciate the reminder.

  about 9 years ago

Dear Heather, You're really most kind with your comments about my article, and I appreciate your letters a great deal. I love your story about the fat little policeman. I think that's priceless! Thank you again, Heather, for all your kindness. Every good wish, Mike

  about 9 years ago

Mike, I found this interesting and enlightening. Makes perfect sense to me! It's one reason I don't read the newspaper or watch the news. Glancing at the headlines online confirms the world is still spinning and I'm grateful to be in my own little space! I think everyone can relate to how music in the car affects how we drive! I had a story as a child about the 'fat little policeman' who pulled a lady over for speeding and cautioned her to sing a slower song! Delightful!

  about 9 years ago
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