Hello and welcome to the TCC Weekly – the Friday bulletin for people who know their skeleton form their Salchow.
This week we talk money, and the pain of parting with it, before asking how to keep your friends in the age of everyone hating each other. We reveal which is more PC – UK or USA – before taking a Values look at the subject of class.
And after the serious stuff, join us for the après-ski in Charlie’s Attic, the cosy log cabin beckoning you in from the cold against your better judgement. It includes the epic quiz to map your political values and armchair activism myths busted.
The pain of paying
The pain of parting with money is one we’ve probably all felt at some point, but did you know that brain imaging studies have shown we experience something like physical pain when we hand over cash?
Professor Dan Ariely, of Duke University, talks here about the virtues of paying for a holiday up front, so you don’t have to wrestle with the pain of paying throughout your break. But it’s perhaps the flipside of this tip that gives behaviour changers something to think about. Dan reveals that the pain of paying affects how much we enjoy things, so making ourselves imagine the pain of paying could help us avoid foolish financial decisions.
Anyone reacting to that by thinking of all those millennials who are so bad with money though would be wise to bear in mind this other reflection from Prof Ariely, demonstrating the uniquely money-draining set of circumstances they find themselves in, with the notable absence of the regular pain of paying reminder of a mortgage.
Friendships can be tested by many things, but increasingly political events and allegiance are making things difficult between people who thought they agreed on more than they do. Ron Berler writes in the LA Times of a friendship of his that has been rocked by his acquaintance’s defence of Donald Trump.
Our aversion to seeing things from others’ perspective is inbuilt and powerful, as illustrated by an example cited in the article of test subjects actively choosing a lower financial reward to read something that affirmed their view rather than one that challenged it. And in this era of seemingly ever-increasing partisanship this seems harder than ever.
The bad news is that partisanship is often pretty hard set, with most of us sticking permanently with the political affiliation we develop in our early adult life. As we have often found when working on tough community cohesion challenges, the key in people getting on is in bringing common ground to the fore. If strangers in these situations can find ways to gel, surely existing friendships can survive the odd bit of rampant ideological animosity.
University tuition fees have once again been in the news this week, and this comes at a time when widening participation is a huge priority for many universities – attracting more students, from backgrounds that mean they are less likely to go to university, is a challenge on which TCC have been collaborating of late, so we were intrigued to read about the BIT’s work with Kings College London to do just that.
Widening participation is arguably an example of disentwining university from its perhaps once class-defining or class-entrenching role in society. To get beneath the surface on this issue, we ambled down to the Values Lab to find out what we all think of class.
That preponderance of purple and red strong agreement, in the upper left of the map, covers the domain of the socially conservative Prospector. It’s perhaps no surprise that this segment, motivated by respect, power and control, would feel enamoured by a hierarchical system such as class.
There’s a splash of yellow in the upper right zone of Settlers, whose fondness for tradition and stability might make staying true to your class a welcome bit of certainty. Pioneers, but also socially liberal Prospectors, who make up the bottom half, are notably colder in their response – as hinted at in this article on the decline of the Europe’s Left this week, the increasing access to higher education over the years may have pushed more of us into the parts of the Values map that tend to resist or reject class identity.
Let us warm you up on what is almost undoubtedly a cold February Friday morning, with some cracking material from around the web this week. It’s been a week that marked the centenary of women’s votes so in PPP we look at what this tells us about political gender equality issues today. We also explore the power of the text message in our Behaviour Change.
We also look ahead to next week and Valentine’s Day in the Values Lab, and round off with a date in Charlie’s Attic, where you’re guaranteed your dinner will be romantically candlelit, because the electricity’s been cut off. This week’s Attic includes the internet’s meme encyclopaedia and the glamorous name behind the Chupa Chups logo.
SMS vs the world
Hawaii was briefly plunged into terrifying confusion last month when a mobile alert was erroneously sent to all mobile phones, warning of an imminent missile attack. Although the alert was retracted and, happily, there was no missile attack, it highlighted the ability mobile technology has given government organisations to get the word out quickly.
This article from Wired points out the absence of such a system in the UK, which hasn’t had a national alert system since the Cold War’s four-minute warning sirens, and suggests the humble SMS might be a worthy consideration with trials already having taken place.
It’s timely then that the Nudge Unit has recently written up this interesting rundown of the merits of our old friend the text. It’s a popular medium for behaviour changers for a number of reasons, not least because of its low cost, ease of use, and its concise message-shaping brevity, but also because it’s so ubiquitous. Unlike more contemporary apps, there’s no need to rely on your audience downloading something – if they’ve got a mobile, they’re equipped. So although it might feel more 2002 than 2018, don’t write off the SMS as a key channel in changing behaviour.
Behaviour change with teens is always tricky – could it have something to do with a lack of self-control?
100 years of votes for women
This week marked the centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK, a momentous milestone in the journey towards political equality. As this Time article points out, that fight continues to this day, with women around the world still facing a lack of political representation and countless depressing instances of sexual harassment linked to a continuing gender power imbalance in many walks of life.
The article also points out some of the parallels between the protest movement then and now, such as marches with hats and banners serving as “sartorial markers that unmistakably link that pre-war moment to the anti-sexual assault protests we see now.” Like the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements today, the struggle for suffrage transcended borders, and in recent years has been recognised for its diversity in terms of race and sexuality.
So with closing the gender gap unfinished business, particularly in terms of politics with the UK languishing 38th in the world for female political representation, how might we look to bolster gender equality? It’s a big question, but here’s a decent bit of weekend reading – The Behavioural Insights Team have helpfully compiled this collection of the behavioural roots of, and behavioural insights’ potential role in helping to close, the political gender gap. Image taken from Time
Next Wednesday is Valentine’s Day – if you’re stuck for ideas to make it extra special, how about proposing to your loved one with a doughnut engagement ring? But just who believes we all need someone to love, and who thinks that’s a load of romantic rubbish? We took a bottle of champagne and a plate of oysters on a seasonably romantic trip down to the Values Lab to find out.
The map shows us a pretty universal agreement that, indeed, everyone does need someone to love. Particularly strong agreement comes from confident Pioneers, at the bottom, and Prospectors, on the left.
Although traditional Settlers in the upper right also glow a warm romantic red of agreement, their neighbours the concerned Pioneers, on the lower right, are a little cooler on the importance of love. It’s hard to say why, but perhaps this most ethics and fairness-conscious cohort just think there are more important things in life, or maybe feel that to agree would be to stigmatise those without someone to love.