Again, lots of interesting speakers.
We’re sure what we learn from other speakers and the audience will help us improve our knowledge and also this blog.
Here’s the second in the series on how fairness is interpreted differently by people around the world.
Joseph Henrich conducted a money-splitting experiment amongst UCLA students. He decided to use $160 for the experiment, which translated to 2.3 days worth of work. The rules – a student was given the money and was supposed to share a part with another undisclosed untraceable student. But if this student rejected the offer, both would walk away with nothing.
The most common split offered by students to another was 50/50, which the receiving partner always accepted. The participants said, “If I offered less than half, my partner wouldn’t accept the offer.” When asked if the recipients would accept an 80/20 offer – all of the partners scoffed, “that would be unfair”.
Then Henrich took the experiment to one of the most remote places on earth in the Peruvian Amazon – the Machiguenga tribe – that live in small villages, each family being self-sufficient, making its own tools and gathering its own food. Using a sum of 20 Peruvian soles that came to 2.3 days worth of work, Henrich conducted the same money-splitting experiment.
The Machiguenga participants offered incredibly low sums to their partners. Most offered an 85/15 split favoring the person making the offer. And the partners nearly always accepted them. Explained Henrich, “Several individuals made it clear they would accept any money, regardless of how much the proposer (splitter) was getting. They seemed to feel it was just bad luck that they were responders and not proposers.”
Some tribe members did offer 50/50 and when Henrich interviewed them he found out each one of these people had spent considerable time living among modern Westerners and felt that 50/50 split was the fair thing to do.
In the Amazon jungle it’s finders keepers, unlike US, Japan, Indonesia or Israel for that matter. It will be fascinating to conduct this experiment in different parts of India to find out what Indians from different states, castes and cultures deem fair.
Source: Does culture matter in economic behavior? Ultimate game bargaining among the Machiguenga of the Peruvian Amazon – Amercian Economic Review 90 (2000): 973-79.
Indian audiences of Kaun Banega Krorepati (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) almost always help out contestants whenever contestants use the ‘ask the audience’ lifeline, regardless of his/her apparent abilities or background. As per our observation the answer is mostly correct and only sometimes wrong. And since we’ve been born and brought up in India, we could safely say that the intention is almost always there to help the contestant win.
Americans too help out contestants, when they use the ‘ask the audience’ lifeline. In fact using this lifeline results in the correct answer more than 90% of the time.
Here’s the fun part. In one of the game shows of the French version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, a contestant named Henri was faced with the question – What revolves around the earth? A. Moon B. Sun C. Mars D. Venus. Henri opted for the ‘ask the audience’ lifeline. No one voted for Venus, 2% voted for Mars, 42% voted for Moon and the biggest chunk 56% voted for Sun. Was the audience ignorant? What do you say French friends? Say Ori and Rom Brafman, authors of Sway, “the French audience deliberately chose the wrong answer because it didn’t seem fair to them for Henri to progress in the game with their help, when he couldn’t even answer such an easy question.”
Russian audiences often give the wrong answers. And deliberately mislead both smart and less smart contestants alike. So much so that the contestants learned to be wary of the ‘ask the audience’ lifeline. Geoffrey Hosking, an expert in Russian history and faculty of UCL says, “Before the twentieth century peasant communities in Russia grew up expecting to lend one another a hand. In the industrial days, people brought the old country ways to the city. But the same interdependent community could also turn against you if you stood out or were seen as different. People who departed from the norm were regarded as misfits. Very poor were considered a burden on the rest of the community. Very rich were regarded to have made money by dubious means. From this perspective Russian audiences see contestants trying to get rich on the backs of the audience members. So they feel that they should not contribute to such unfair behavior.”
Friends, I’m speaking at TEDxGateway on Bleep and Behavioural Design.
There are lots of interesting speakers lined up. So come over to NCPA, Mumbai on 8th Dec 2013 to listen and discuss some stimulating ideas and thinking that could change the way you view the world.
All the information is here – www.tedxgateway.com.
Hope to see some of you there,
Anand & Mayur.
Bleep has been featured in TIME, BBC, Fast Company, BMW Guggenheim Lab, USA Today, The Strait Times, Times of India (2), The Economic Times (2), Mint, CNBC Overdrive, Hindustan Times, NDTV, Top Gear, Radio One (2), Mumbai Boss, The Sunday Guardian, DNA and TEDxGateway talk.
Indiscriminate honking is a bad habit and a huge irritant in India, parts of Asia and South America, or even by cab drivers in NY. If you are visiting us from a country where the habit of honking is a problem, share this video on facebook, twitter, linkedin, pinterest and help spread the word.
A big thank you in advance for your support. To get us in touch with a Govt. or NGO representative of your country, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every share counts. Every little helps.
Anand and Mayur
Honking is so embedded in Indian driving etiquette that Audi India has confirmed, in media, having designed extra loud, ultradurable horns for vehicles sold in India. Meanwhile people face a rapidly growing problem with many side effects of noise pollution. Some of them being increased hyper-tension, blood pressure, hearing loss, increased risk of heart attacks and disturbed sleep patterns. Reports in Indian cities show that noise levels are way beyond the permissible limits. Truly we are all horny.
Honking like other behaviour, over time, becomes a habit. And habits are essentially automatic behaviour where one does not consciously think about the action, but rather, the decision-making happens automatically. So we thought that it was important to shift the driver from an automatic mode of honking as a habit, to make him deliberate on whether the situation really demanded that he honk. We needed to make the driver conscious of the habit of honking by giving him immediate feedback while the driver was still driving the car, so that the next time the driver honked only when he thought it was necessary, rather than honk indiscriminately.
This approach led us to create a ‘Horn Reduction System’ we’ve called Bleep that has proved to reduce honking amongst each and every one of participants by an average of 61%.
Bleep – A horn reduction system
Bleep is a device with a simple red button fitted in an easily accessible place on the dashboard of a car. The red button has a frown sketched on it and when the driver presses the horn, the red button begins to beep and flash. In order to switch the device off, the driver needs to press the red button.
The 6-month long experiment
Bleep has been tested on manual and automatic geared cars amongst 30 people including men, women and chauffeurs of private vehicles, over 6 months and over 3800 kms. The participants were given either of two cars – manually geared Swift or automatic Honda City, with Bleep fitted, to be driven for 4 days during the working weekdays. Two days with Bleep off and the next two days with Bleep on, so that we could compare the number of honks per kilometer in the control situation (pre-Bleep) with the experimental situation (post-Bleep). Bleep has been tested as triggering off every time the horn is pressed, which is a stricter version in the manually geared Swift car, as well as triggering off every third time the horn is pressed, which is more lenient, in the automatic Honda City. In the first phase of the experiment the drivers were not given any information about the experiment. In the second phase they were simply shown how the system works.
We have found a reduction in honking in each and every one of the participants wherein honks per km reduced between 19% to 96% (on an average by 62.5%) when Bleep was triggered every time the horn was pressed (stricter version). A reduction in honks per km was found between 16% to 91% (on an average by 60.3%) when Bleep was triggered every third time the horn was pressed (lenient version). These numbers prove that the reduction in honking relates to indiscriminate honking that drivers can do without.
The science of Bleep
The science behind the effectiveness of Bleep is that it assists the driver in reducing honking by using a visual-cum-sound reminder. The driver gets instant feedback when the red light with the frown beeps and flashes when he honks, making the driver conscious about his inappropriate behaviour of honking and making him deliberate about when he really required to honk. The driver having to physically switch off the reminder further helps in persuading him to honk lesser. The frown on the device is designed to indicate that honking is socially inappropriate behaviour. A study called ‘Overcoming Intuition’ done by Alter, Oppenheimer, Epley and Eyre has shown that frowning helps the brain reduce the reliance on intuition and activates analytical reasoning. Another research at the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown that peak brain activity (arresting attention) occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements, which is evidence that sounds that have a pause in between make you more alert. That’s why a seatbelt reminder like sound was used in the beep.
Bleep comes with many other unique features like recording, displaying and transmission of vehicle data like number of honks, speed at time of honk, location, time, etc., inside the vehicle or at a remote location and many other customised features. Patent pending.
Billions of hours, fuel and money gets wasted in traffic congestions. Though there has been some progress in the last few years in Mumbai with the starting of the Bandra-Worli sea-link and the fly-overs being built, there’s a strong feeling that it may not be enough. Take the case of Delhi. Delhi is most privileged to have more than 21 per cent of its geographical area under road space. Delhi has built the maximum roads and flyovers. Yet its roads are totally gridlocked. While the government has targeted to increase the usage of public transport from existing 40% to 80% by 2020, it will extremely difficult to curb the ‘status’ tag of cars.
Singapore has had the ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) system that charges extra dollars for using congested zones during peak hours. So do London and Stockholm. However congestion charging has come under criticism that it favours the rich and that it adversely affects retail businesses in the congested zone. So could gaming come to the rescue?
Two experimental transportation projects are under way in Singapore and Silicon Valley that aim to improve commutes through gaming. In one of the experiments, conducted by Balaji Prabhakar, a Stanford engineering professor, more than 17,500 Singapore commuters have enrolled. Participants in the Singapore program shift their commutes to off-peak hours to earn credits, which can be traded for a chance to win cash.
So rather than only punishing traveling in peak hours, this program also rewards traveling in non-peak hours.
Balaji Prabhakar said during a recent talk at the university’s campus in Palo Alto, California, that 11-12 percent of users in Singapore have shifted off-peak. Men tend to shift later, he said, while women generally shift earlier. He says that 11% might not seem much, but they’re enough to make a difference in traffic flow. He ran a successful project for employees of Infosys called INSTANT (Infosys-Stanford Traffic project) in Bangalore in 2008-2009 and is now running the project at Stanford University as well.
I’m wondering how this could be implemented in Mumbai as public transportation is neither electronically controlled nor linked to each other. However prices of public transport can be controlled manually. So imagine the ticket prices of road transport – bus, rickshaw, taxi and the sea-link like toll is increased by 25% in peak hours (8:30-10am and 6:00-7:30pm), but is also decreased by say, 10% during off-peak hours. Could it work?
Illustration by Mayur Tekchandaney
Pornography is illegal in India and is seen by most as something that is detrimental to society. Many people outside our country, like in the US (where pornography is legal) too believe it is detrimental to social order, contributing to the degradation of women and leading to rape and sexual assault or other sex related crimes. But there are others who argue the other way, saying that pornography is an expression of fantasy that provides pleasure and can act as a positive displacement activity for sexual aggression.
This debate as well as the increasing coverage of rapes in Indian media got us to research whether or not pornography led to sex related crimes and rapes. Here’s what we found:
Tons of research has been done on this. Quoting few of them here. Findings of Goldstein and Kant, 1973 found that rapists were more likely than non-rapists US prisoners, to have been punished for looking at pornography while a youngster. These two also found that strict, religious upbringing to be highly correlated with sexual offences. A 1984 Canadian study by McKay & Dolff for the Department of Justice of Canada reported, “There is no systematic evidence that suggests that increases in specific forms of deviant behaviour, reflected in crime tend statistics, eg. rape, are causally related to pornography.” Diamond and Uchiyama, 1999, studied the situation in Japan – as explicit materials were readily available, the incidence of rape had dramatically decreased over the past few decades. Studies from Croatia by Landripet, Stulhofer & Diamond done in 2006 and of US and China done by Diamond also showed significant decreases in rape as pornography became increasingly available.
Reason sighted for this ‘Porn up, Rape down’ phenomenon is that, erotic inclinations to rape, flash, other sexually offensive behaviour, etc might have been used in real life encounters as a means of resolving a lustful inclination. The ready availability of pornography in contrast, may have facilitated a more convenient and more socially tolerable solution of masturbation.
Whether you agree to the above or not, here’s something to think about – when we express our opinion on pornography we think about its effect on others, not on ourselves. While we may not think that pornography is harmful or capable of inciting sexual offenses, we think it might have such an effect on others.
Illustration hidden by Mayur Tekchandaney
We have often heard the phrase ‘Eyes are the window to the soul’. I believe it too, but I have found it difficult to explain how exactly looking into someone’s eyes says something about them or about what was going in their minds. Here’s an interesting finding.
In which one of the photographs, do you find the model more attractive? A or B?
Most of the men find picture B to be more attractive (unless you are into the ‘bitchy’ kinds). While both the pictures are the same, in picture B the size of pupils has been dilated.
Studies have shown that our pupils dilate wider than normal when we are excited about something and even someone. In 1965, pupillometry pioneer and psychologist Eckhard Hess asked men to compare the attractiveness of images of women with average-sized pupils to drawings in which the women’s pupil sizes were enhanced. Hess noted that “none of the men reported noticing the difference in pupil size” between the pictures, but the subtle change seemed to subconsciously influence the level of attraction they felt for the woman. When the woman had large pupils, she was said to be soft, more feminine and pretty, while when the very same woman had small pupils, the men described her as cold, hard and selfish. Therefore, men may unwittingly read pupil dilation as an advertisement of interest. Now I know why everyone seems so attractive at candle-light dinners!
Are women attracted to men with large pupils? The answer is sometimes. Apparently for women, smaller pupils being more attractive in a mate holds true, if they are into the ‘bad boy’ type or are seeking a short term fling. While women who preferred men with larger sized pupils sought long term relationships with ‘nice guys’ more often than not.
Given the above, I now feel the eyes are less of a window to one’s soul and more of a window to his or her bedroom.
The image of a small black fly inside the white urinals in the men’s bathroom has helped reduce spillage rates in the men’s rooms at airports. Yes its true. In response to dirty bathrooms caused by men urinating on the floor, an airport maintenance worker Jos Van Bedoff suggested that they etch the image of a fly onto the urinals to give men something to aim at as they hurry to and from flights. According to NPR science correspondent Robert Krulwich, who gave a fuller account of the story, the man thought back to his time serving in the Dutch army during the 1960s, when red dots had been painted on the latrines in the barracks to improve cleanliness. Sure enough, spillage rates in the airport men’s room dropped an estimated 80 percent after the fly was introduced, leading to a much cleaner bathroom. Fascinating how men instinctively aim at targets, and how a routine action can be disrupted by a simple, strategically placed graphic design.
Illustration by Mayur Tekchandaney