What a great episode. I’m not sure if it’s simply great casting – which this season does feature – or a combination of casting and editing, but this episode so clearly worked. I loved every second of it, from the beginning right to Wendell’s amazing message to Chris.
And to celebrate such a killer episode, we need some good ol’ theory. So let’s talk some self-efficacy, a classic concept/theory in social psychology.
While we all probably loved Chris getting the boot this episode, I’m guessing we can all agree it was a bad move, right? During the episode, many noted how Chris wouldn’t lie and is totally predictable. We also know most people couldn’t stand him and there was no way he would win in front of a jury. So why boot him and not try to eliminate Dom or Wendell?
Well, isn’t this a typical merge episode? Think about it, at the merge, we often see easy targets get the boot. These are people that probably shouldn’t go home, but just make for an easy vote that everyone can get behind.
And that’s the key: Everyone can get behind these votes.
At the merge, I’m guessing it’s a really anxious time for castaways. They’ve made it to a pivotal moment and the entire game is changing in front of them. They’re all nervous and want to make sure their game continues. They all know if they can last just a little longer, they can probably find their footing. And they all know the merge vote usually reveals a lot of information.
That’s the key with self-efficacy. You’ve all probably seen me mention the name Albert Bandura before. Bandura is the hugely influential scholar who introduced social learning theory to the field. He’s the one who did all those seminal studies of children watching videos of Bobo dolls.
With self-efficacy, Bandura argues that someone’s behavior is influenced by their perceived ability to accomplish a desired result. So what does that mean? It essentially means that the more confident we are we can accomplish a specific goal, the more likely we are to engage in the behaviors needed to accomplish the goal. If we’re not confident at all, we’re far less likely to try something. And, of course, there are many factors that influence our confidence.
Looking at this week’s episode, people were probably far more confident that everyone could come together and eliminate Chris. They all knew, individually, that if they took a run at Dom or Wendell, they might not get it done, which could have horrible repercussions on alliances, etc. And we know that anxiousness and uncertainty really influence confidence.
Basically, the remaining castaways did not have enough self-efficacy to chance eliminating a bigger threat than Chris. This was easy. Everyone could get behind it. Everyone had the confidence to know it would happen.
At the merge, all these insecurities probably eat away at confidence and that’s why we see such obvious boots. Make sense?
So where does everyone stand right now? At least in my simple mind? Here we go:
OK, well, let’s call it a day. Here’s to hoping for another great episode this 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.