Have we seen an episode more focused on egos?
I think the show would have been better if it revolved around Eggos, but, alas, we all sat through 44 or so minutes featuring people telling us how awesome they are compared to everyone in the world.
Well, actually, I take that back. Peter might think he’s the smartest and most awesomest dude to ever walk the planet, but this season’s resident ass, Kyle/Jason, actually only thinks he’s “possibly” one of the best bounty hunters in Southeast Michigan. You know, I’m not so knowledgeable about the world of bounty hunting (besides that dude who belongs in Winger videos), amazingly, but I feel like you need to take more pride in your work, Kyle/Jason.
With all that said, are you ready to talk theory with possibly one of the best True Dork Times Survivor recappers located in central Colorado? OK, let’s do that.
So we know the whole episode, regardless of the tribe shown, really went deep into how many castaways think they’re, well, God’s gift to reality television or something. But, of course, this hubris truly came into focus over on the Brain tribe, where Peter, especially, and Liz (sob, winner pick, sob) spent what seemed like 1,235 minutes telling us how smart, beautiful and truly amazing they are compared to us mere mortals. Of course, producers labeling them as brains probably didn’t help.
I think, though, the best theory to utilize this week when trying to understand what went down (besides, you know, two people without a damn clue about the people they’re playing with), is another one from psychology: self-perception theory.
Most theories about behavior argue that people’s behavior comes from their attitudes or beliefs. So, for example, if I don’t think the environment is something to worry about (attitude), I may go buy a car that looks absolutely ridiculous and gets like one mile per gallon (behavior). But self-perception theory posits the opposite: We behave first and then adjust our attitudes and beliefs accordingly. It’s kind of like last week’s cognitive dissonance theory, but different in that self-perception theory is really all about the self and not necessarily about avoiding counter narratives. Does this make sense? Let’s tease it out a little more.
Developed by Daryl Bem, a quasi-retired psychology professor at Cornell University in upstate New York, self-perception theory basically argues that we behave first, then come up with our attitudes. Let me give you an example of an experiment conducted more than three decades ago by a couple of psychologists in Canada. I like this one because, I think, it explains the theory well. So, these two researchers gave two different groups of subjects a survey of sorts about their environmental beliefs. Now, it’s pretty complicated, but let’s only discuss the nuts and bolts.
Before the experiment, they tested both groups’ feelings about the environment and both groups had the same feelings. Then, the researchers asked one group, for example, if they’ve ever recycled. They asked the other group if they always recycled. Notice the tiny difference in wording.
After each group took the experiment, the group asked if they’ve ever recycled labeled themselves as more environmentally friendly. Why? Because the question made them realize their behavior was environmentally friendly. Almost everyone has recycled something. The other group, though, answered negatively because, like most people, they didn’t recycle everything. Again, behavior before attitude.
On the brains tribe, we saw four people (Neal, Aubry, Debbie and Joseph) who may have been a little odd (Debbie) or mean (Joe) in some cases, but we never saw them dismiss their fellow castaways as bad game players. In the little bits we were shown in previous weeks and, especially, this week, we saw them all understand that everyone was smart and must be treated as such in the game. The treated everyone as decent game players (behavior) and they formed that opinion (attitude).
Now Peter and Liz, on the other hand, gave us confessional after confessional telling us, implicitly and explicitly, that they were better game players than everyone else and smarter and more good looking (that part wasn’t delusional) and on and on and on (attitude). Where did that attitude come from? Well, according to self-perception theory, their behavior. And we saw this over and over again. Peter’s conversations and, especially, Liz’s interactions with fellow castaways last night were so condescending. They clearly acted like they were better than the other four and then, of course, believed it.
And this left my winner pick, poor poor Liz, with a snuffed torch. If only I could have passed her some of the reams of quantitative data from social psychology experiments that tell us when you think you’re smarter than people, you often overlook them. Social cues are huge. Liz and Peter, well, they don’t notice them well, I think. And for Liz, maybe it’s because, as she told us, she spends a lot of energy shutting down her emotions.
That could also be linked to self-perception theory. Liz works with quantitative data (behavior) so she’s probably going to form opinions that numbers don’t lie, but emotions do (attitudes). And she ignored, I’m sure, many social, emotional cues that would have told her the other four didn’t particularly want to be led by her and Peter. And now Liz is gone.
Well, that’s it for theory and recapping today. But before we say our goodbyes, let’s, as always, take a look at the remaining tribe members (until, if the previews are truthful, they all die next week) and see how they’re looking right now:
Brains – Chan Loh
Beauty – Gondol
Brawn – To Tang
Let’s talk in the comments about Cydney but, also, what do you guys think of the season so far? Are we in for a good one or a bad one or something in the middle? OK, have a good week.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He’s seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he’ll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.