March 23, 2009

This Guy's Going to Blind You With Behavioral Science

I am a terrible liar. TERRIBLE. I can't do it to save my life. Acting is one thing and lying is another. I can act my way out of a paper bag okay but I certainly can't lie myself out of one. I'm an open book, I wear my heart on my sleeve, insert other cliches here and I've been told I am honest to a fault. Though it is really annoying when I try to hide the cookie I sneaked from Mike this is actually something I wouldn't change about myself. I may not be able to hide the true number of baked goods I've consumed but people always know I'm sincere. And I can live with that trade off. So I just don't bother trying to lie. (There was this one time in the 3rd grade when I inexplicably lied to my swim teacher Mrs. Piester [she was a total jerk though- if the water was cold and anyone said anything about it she would call us a crybaby- my mother included. I blame all the times she cracked her head on the pool floor.] For some reason I told Mrs. Piester that my school teacher showed swimming safety videos and I was totally flippant about it until Mrs. Piester wrote down my teacher's name and wanted to talk to her about it. In the car on the way home I had a panic attack and once my mother coaxed it out of me at home, she drove me back to talk to the old coot and confess. This is probably why I don't lie. HUMILIATING! At least I'm a really good swimmer.)

I'm just as bad with cheating. I've only cheated three times in my life. Once in second grade I got the crazy idea to cheat on a spelling test. I had no reason to, I wasn't a bad speller. I guess I just wanted to do well? Whatever, I failed at cheating with flying colors. I think the only reason I wasn't disciplined was because it was a substitute teacher that day- she just gave me the evil eye. Maybe looking up at her all the time gave me away. Or maybe the paper with the answers I kept pulling out of my desk did it... Eh. I was scarred from the experience. I didn't cheat again until the 11th grade when I copied a homework assignment for History and that's only because I didn't consider that cheating at the time. The final time was AP Government class in 12th grade. We had already taken the AP exam so we spent the rest of the school year learning about Virginia Commonwealth government. We had a quiz about VA history and for the life of me I couldn't remember the name of George Washington's house and I REFUSED to get it wrong. So I peeked at my neighbor's test and instantly remembered freaking Mount Vernon. I even visited the stupid place years before but my mind was drawing a blank. So I cheated.

All this reminiscing brings me to this fantastic video of a lecture about cheating and by extension lying. This fellow was 70% burned and while he stayed in the hospital the nurses would rip his bandages off quickly despite the pain it caused him because they perceived it to be the least painful. All the while he insisted this was not the case. His experience lead him to study pain which in turn lead him to some interesting discoveries in why we lie and cheat. My description does not give his lecture justice. I've always found human nature fascinating so this held my rapt attention all the way through. This should make you think in a way you don't much these days. So think away.


Foley said...

This guy has a good book out called Predictably Irrational. If you liked the video you would love the book.

dad said...

This was very thought provoking! It occurs to me we all look at our colleagues to see what the norm is, and can talk ourselves into some very bad choices. The cheating comfort zone concept makes a lot of sense.