While they might not have explicitly discussed it, even early Survivor players thought about their stories. Now, though, a story can get you the boot really quickly.
What do I mean? Well, think about Ben and his alliance right now: They all want him out because they think his story will play to the jury. Ryan’s mentioned it a few times too. Nobody wants to sit next to a former Marine with young kids.
Heck, in Nicaragua, we saw castaways openly talk about booting Kelly Bruno because they didn’t want to compete against someone with a physical disability. This is basically something that happens every single season now.
The more savvy players, though, they think about their story throughout the game. They know that, in the end, they will need to tell a clear, cohesive narrative that sums up why they should win. The problem is that old adage that says everyone is the hero of their own story. In Survivor, to me, that means castaways sometimes get too blinded by what’s good for their own game that they can’t put themselves in their competitors’ shoes. And, we know, the best way to win Survivor is to be one step ahead of everyone else, to anticipate what others will do before they do it.
A couple years ago, writing in this space, I talked about a theory in social psychology called narrative transportation theory. As we know, a theory is just a way of explaining what happens. Sometimes in this here column, the theories we talk about are super simple; they just make sense. And other times, it gets a little complicated. This one, well, it confuses me a bit. But at its core, narrative transportation theory, which is often used in advertising or other kinds of persuasion research, really makes sense for what we saw this week.
The main idea behind narrative transportation theory is that stories, or narrative, are incredibility important to us as humans. You know the old cliché, the one that says humans are real storytelling animals. We say this because, throughout time, that’s how we’ve learned, through telling stories. That’s basically what the theory argues, that In essence: When certain conditions are set, people get lost in stories, and when they get lost, their attitudes and beliefs shift to fit that story.
I think that Ryan and Chrissy in particular and, to a lesser extent JP (so long Winner Pick™!), got lost in the story of the alliance of seven. Basically, Ryan and Chrissy convinced themselves that it made sense to keep the alliance together and they’d grab Ben and JP (or Devon) and pick off the rest. They convinced themselves that this story, this narrative, made sense to everyone. But, of course, it didn’t. Folks like Lauren knew that they had to get Chrissy and Ryan before they got them. So they made a Big Move™.
This is key. You would think seasoned Survivor players such as Ryan and Chrissy would know they needed to strike first, but they built up, in their minds, this idea of the seven actually staying together. I would argue, also, that this strategy would have worked for them since Mike and Joe are, at least in the minds of Ryan and Chrissy, more strategic players than Lauren, Devon, JP and Ashley (at least).
Does this make sense? I believe we say Ryan and Chrissy have their attitudes and beliefs changes because they bought into this story of the seven. Bad, bad, move. We’ll see if it’s the end of them …
So now that we’re done with the theory, let’s take a look at the final seven:
OK, only three episodes left and this season is finally starting to get good. I’m excited. Let’s talk next 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.