This week we look at mental health and the role of sport, and our politics section explores the suspicion of 'nice guys' – asking whether politicians who pose as the voice of decency sometimes drive people away. Our Values Lab explores the new culture of ascetic narcissism among men, meanwhile – pondering whether there’s a link between Trump and the fashion for ‘huel’.
And of course, there’s Charlie’s Attic, the perennially flexed bicep, lifting a pint to its lips at the end of each TCC Weekly.
Like many on social media, we were moved this week by a letter from the Barnsley Chief Executive to a fan having a tough time with mental health. Men’s mental health still carries a lot of stigma, and the intervention showed exactly the sorts of things necessary to break that down – emotional intelligence, personalisation, meeting people where they are. It shows that sport can play a vital role in removing the taboos.
Also this week, we were interested in this slideshow, which showed the early genesis of the Ask For Angela campaign – a campaign to protect women while dating, which is increasingly common in pubs across the UK.
Nice guys and politics
We were fascinated recently by this article in The Conversation on why we often dislike good guys. It put in mind a recent Zadie Smith story, which included the lines “I instinctively sympathize with the guilty. That’s my guilty secret.” The Conversation piece highlights studies which suggest a sense of moral competition makes us want to knock the saintly across their perch.
The finding is powerful from a political perspective, showing why progressives struggle when they frame their politics as an articulation of all that’s compassionate and good. The implication often involves a judgement, and – rather than joining the battle to be the worthiest – the response of electors is often to turn to those who make them feel good about themselves, or even to right populists who wear their lack of compassion as a badge of honour.
Elsewhere this week, with polling finding 100 seats apparently switching to Remain (mapped here), it will be interesting to see how the implications of freedom of movement affect the Brexit debate. As this research showing we have Europe’s biggest ex-pat community shows – not to mention this woman’s anger about the number of Spaniards in Spain – it could be contentious.
We were interested in this recent article in the Spectator about modern men and the culture of self-improvement. The article described the culture of men turning to products like ‘Huel’ (that’s ‘human fuel’) as well as to extreme forms of abstinence. The piece describes this as a quest for both physical and ethical self-improvement; a sort of ascetic narcissism. It hypothesises that figures like Trump or Harvey Weinstein are the overweight and uncontrolled counterpoints against which this trend is kicking back.
"Trump is held up as a symbol of all male vice... A serial womaniser and fast-food addict, he’s a greedy man. Harvey Weinstein…is invariably described as a fat slob who was addicted to sex, fizzy drinks and bad food. They have become symbols of ‘toxic masculinity’. Is it any wonder that many young men are starting to look for ways to, as that dieting cliché goes, ‘detox’ their masculinity – in order to distance themselves from monsters like this?"
The heat map above pus a milder version of the philosophy behind ‘Huel’ into the Values Lab. It finds that those who most prize “vitality, health and energy” tend to sit right on the Prospector-Pioneer Faultline. This seems to corroborate the theory put forward in the Spectator. Fads like ‘Huel’ – which market themselves as an alternative to “inefficient, unsustainable” regular foods – could well be a reaction against Trumpish forms of masculinity, which are both unattractive from a Prospector point of view, and immoral from a Pioneers one.
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, the cheeseburger treat at the end of the improving -psycho-social diet that is the Weekly:
Hello and welcome to the TCC Weekly – the Friday bulletin for people who know their shop talk from their talking shop.
Our politics section this week includes a look at crowds, contrarians and social mobility in the light of populism. And our Values Lab and Behaviour Change sections switch round, to look at attitudes to hot weather and what the implications are for environmental campaigners.
And of course, there’s Charlie’s Attic, the set of rose tinted Ray-Bans with which we conclude our newsletter each week.
Copycats and contrarians
We’ll be interested to read the new book Copycats and Contrarians, by Michelle Baddeley. The concept is striking, and you can see how these two apparently contradictory impulses reinforce each other. The desire to share in collective anger and the willingness to question the mainstream, ‘expert’ consensus intertwine in interesting ways to create populism.
On the topic of books and understanding political populism, we’re also interested in the look at social mobility provided by Social Mobility (and its enemies). Social mobility and populism don’t immediately tally as sides of the same coin, but it seems to us that, if you’re looking to explain the rise of populism, a society where doors aren’t open is also likely to be one where frustration rises and the safety vale of populism becomes attractive.
With new findings suggesting heatwaves like this summer’s could become the norm thanks to climate change, we thought we’d look at the values of those who like the ‘sun on their skin’ (a topic we covered a little while back, but which seems to have extra resonance in light of our unprecedented June and July).
Pioneers are the least likely to be sun worshippers – maybe because of a stronger awareness of the health implications, or less concern about looking good. Meanwhile, the numbers suggest that, although a majority from all segments agree, the Settler corner is significantly less likely than the Prospector one to agree – perhaps feeling that very hot weather is an intrusion on safety and comfort. This is especially true of the most ‘settled’ Settlers, in the east of the segment.
We’ll come back to this in a moment in our Behaviour Change section, but before doing so, we also wanted to flag this interesting review of the book Authentocrats. It’s very much a values analysis, suggesting the ‘London versus the Rest’ cultural divide has been exaggerated.
Although there are clearly groups with different values, the extent of this geographical divide definitely feels overblown. As Tony Blair put it, when discussing his Sedgefield constituency: “when you scratched even a little beneath the surface, the definitions didn’t quite fit… They drank beer; they also drank wine. They went to the chippy; they also went to restaurants… There had been an article – usual Daily Mail stuff – about how I was a poseur and fraud because I said I liked fish and chips, but when in London living in Islington it was well-known I had eaten pasta (shock-horror). Plainly you couldn’t conceivably like both since these were indications of distinct and incompatible cultures. The Britain of the late 1990s was of course actually one in which people ate a variety of foods, had a multiplicity of cultural experiences, and rather enjoyed it. This was as true ‘up North’ as it was ‘down South’.”
Climate change and values...
The Values Lab above got us thinking about messages around climate change. As the table shows, Settlers are among the most likely – along with Prospectors – to feel efforts to protect the environment are over the top.
“This country has gone too far in its efforts to protect the environment”
Given that groups like Settlers are among the hardest to convince – and potentially the most likely to want predictable, non-extreme, non-threatening weather – we wonder if simple messages around changes in the weather and how this effects everyday life would resonate better than some of the approaches previously tried.
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, the psycho-social sun-worshipper at the end of each newsletter:
While it’s quiet over the summer we’re doing our Weekly on an ‘every other weekly’ basis – like the old days. So, your full TCC Weekly will be back next week, complete with every socio-politico’s favourite loft conversion, Charlie’s Attic.
In the off weeks like this one, however – for those who just can’t do without their Friday dose of psychographics – we’ll still send you a whistle-stop tour of the Values Lab. This week we look at the Values of those who might turn in a family member to the police.
Recent YouGov research took a fascinating look at whether people would hand in their nearest and dearest. The findings are eye-opening. An assiduous 33% would hand in friends and family for shoplifting, but at the other end of the spectrum, an ultra-partisan 3% would protect them from being arrested for murder.
We don’t have a values heatmap for the exact question, but the statement we’ve tested below is based on a similar principle: the idea of universal justice, “even for people you don’t know.”
The findings show this is an overwhelmingly Pioneer sentiment. Socially conservative Prospectors, conversely, are most likely to prioritise those they know over those they don’t. This is interesting, as the YouGov findings showed that younger people (who are more likely to be Prospectors) are the least likely to hand in a close companion to the police. Settlers, meanwhile, are interestingly divided as a segment – torn, perhaps, between their respect for rules, on the one hand, and their mistrust institutions on the other.