This week completed our six-episode argument for a Survivor season of winners. When winners return to the show to face off against non-winners, it never ends well. Like basically everyone else, I was really looking forward to seeing, especially, Tony and Sandra this season. And while we saw Sandra play a great game, she had no chance to actually win. And we all knew Tony would go quickly.
And that brings us to drive theory. The genesis of drive theory goes all the back to Freud, so we’re talking early 20th century here. But, when it comes to applying drive theory in social psychology, the theory is often credited to Robert Zajonc, a psychologist who spent most of his career at Stanford.
Let’s get back to drive theory and Survivor. So I want to make something clear. While this is the case almost every week, it’s especially so this week: The theory is actually super complicated and I’m just taking a small bit of it and applying it.
OK, enough disclaimers. The basic definition of the theory is that people have different drives that control their behavior. Simply put, let’s say we’re without food for six days. Well, our drive to get food is going to be a hell of a lot stronger than if we just ate a ton of food 10 minutes ago. Pretty simple, right? And obvious?
But now let’s get to a little more of a complicated definition. One facet of drive theory posits that when a person is completing a task, their drive to perform depends on a couple other factors, one of which is the audience.
The theory says when that a person needs to complete a task and there’s the presence of a passive audience, what matters is whether the person believes the task to be easy or difficult. When we’re talking about audience, it’s doesn’t mean a literal audience, but rather if the result affects people who have no control over the task.
In essence, Survivor players complete tasks in front of a passive audience. A castaway always knows they’re on television, which is going to affect how they play. I know there are a lot of factors that go into vote-offs, but I think this audience effect makes a difference in seasons with winners.
Hear me out here. I think players look at their competition, see a winner, knows the audience would think it’s smart to eliminate a winner and subsequently sees that task as an easy one. Basically, drive theory says when there is a passive audience and an easy task, arousal levels in the person will spike and they will want to complete the task.
Therefore, while it may have made sense for people to ditch Tai this week since he’s a more variable and less predictable player, players knew Sandra was a winner, that the audience would praise them for eliminating a two-time winner and that the task was relatively easy. This results in Sandra, or any winner, really, getting the boot.
Consider this column my plea for a winners’ season.
I know I’ve heard some people say that it would be boring, but I don’t agree. I would love it. And I know Probst has said he doesn’t think there would be a good cast to choose from, but I think that’s wrong too. Let’s end the theory stuff, and think about a winners’ season, a season where drive theory might not matter. Let’s figure there would be a 20-person game.
And here’s who I would have on.
For men: Richard, Brian, Chris, Yul, Earl, Todd, Boston Rob, Tony, Mike and Jeremy.
For the women: Tina, Vecepia, Sandra, Danni, Parvati, Natalie W., Sophie, Kim, Denise and Natalie A.
Basically, for a variety of reasons (mostly because they’re dull or I’ve seen them too many times), I would be leaving out the following winners: Ethan, Jenna, Amber, Tom, Aras, Bob, J.T., Fabio, Cochran, Tyson, Michele and Adam.
Any thoughts on my fantasy season?
OK, so I went off on a tangent this week. Let’s call it a column. As we officially hit the middle game, here’s how I’m viewing the remaining players:
Now that we’ve completed another tribe swap, here’s hoping producers let this one play out until the merge. While all for switching things, especially in returning seasons, I think these constant switches have made it difficult for tribe dynamics to develop. And those dynamics, and what they lead to, are kind of my favorite part of Survivor.
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.