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Hello and welcome to the TCC Weekly – the Friday bulletin for people who know their redlining from their greenwashing.
As we’re in the Nowhereville between pumpkins and rockets, this Weekly has a bit of a spooky theme, including a poll of those who believe in ghosts, a piece from the archive on rationality and zombies, and a values analysis of Trump Jr’s claims about Halloween and socialism. Plus, removing our fake fangs for just a moment, we look at the Centre for Towns’ new research. And of course, there’s the customary trick-or-treat bucket that is Charlie’s Attic.
David Evans

Rationality vs Zombies

Image taken from BPS Research Digest
Yes, Halloween has been and gone, but it’s not too late to ponder the seasonal implications for human behaviour, such as how people make decisions in a zombie apocalypse.
This old article from the BPS recalls a Science Museum experiment on just that. Participants took part in a computer simulation where they had to direct their character from a corridor into a zombie-filled room, then get back out as fast as they could. The zombies were trying to get out too.
Participants showed no preference for either of the exits, but when the stress of trying to get the fastest time was introduced, they were more likely to head straight for the door through which they’d entered, even though most of the zombies were heading that way too. It’s a light-hearted demonstration of our tendency, when we feel threatened, to revert to what we know, and a reminder that we should never expect people to make rational choices – especially when there’s a lot at stake.

Also this week:
  • Trick-or-treaters bingeing on sugar may be a once-a-year phenomenon for many, but for young people with diabetes, checking sugar levels regularly is critical, and this article suggests the magic ingredient in persuading them to do so is cold, hard cash
  • Good news for charities hoping to boost support – the BIT has launched a new version of its volunteering and fundraising-nudging tool Test+Build
  • Another quick one from the Nudge Unit – surprising us with just how much our behaviour’s affected by saying goodbye to BST for the winter
  • A clever intervention in Iceland – ‘3D’ zebra crossings to slow down speeding cars

Centre for Towns

Jeremy Corbyn could be PM if just 734 individuals in 45 ‘town seats’ vote Labour. That’s according to research from the brand new Centre for Towns think tank, based on analysis of 5,000 places. Their analysis, which Lisa Nandy MP writes about here, is part of a welcome effort to better understand the subtleties of small towns.
The Centre for Cities has existed for many years – as well, more recently, as the Centre for London. Led by figures from the world of political science, including Ian Warren and Rob Ford, the creation of the Centre for Towns is an important step forward in developing a political voice for other parts of the country. It will be interesting, as it develops, to see the types of differences they identify between cities and towns – both as far as policy solutions and public attitudes are concerned – and to better understand politics away from our metropolitan centres.
Elsewhere this week, we just thought we’d quickly flag the below infographic (taken from
here), which visualises the current status of the UK ion relation to the EU – along with five different post-Brexit policy permutations. To really understand Brexit it’s worth perusing in more detail. While we’re on the topic, this Institute for Govt matrix is also useful.

The Values Lab is based on the Values Modes segmentation tool – created by Cultural Dynamics and used by TCC – which divides the population into ethics-driven Pioneers, aspirational Prospectors, and threat-wary Settlers. Take the test here to see which you are.

Halloween and socialism
Donald Trump Jr this week chose Halloween as the perfect opportunity for a life lesson for his young daughter Chloe. His much-discussed tweet, suggesting that giving half of her sweets away to “some kid who sat at home” would open her eyes to socialism, has invited a fair amount of ridicule, but who is likely to have seen that tweet and nodded their heads in approval? We loaded up a couple of bucketfuls of confectionary and headed down to the Values Lab to find out.
% who agree strongly that… Pioneers Prospectors Settlers
Poor people today have it easy because they can get benefits without doing anything in return 9% 16% 18%
Poor people have hard lives because benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently 14% 11% 16%
The question above was asked as a scale of agreement from the first statement to the second, so there are lots of less impassioned responses in between, but nonetheless there is a clear pattern that socially liberal and fairness-focussed Pioneers are more likely to feel strongly that benefits don’t go far enough, while more individualistic Prospectors are more in agreement that benefits make like too easy.
The perplexing result comes from socially conservative and stability-driven Settlers, who are the most likely of the groups to feel strongly either way. Typically concerned with certainty and protecting what they have, it’s reasonable to infer that this might make them more likely to resent benefits-receivers if they don’t think they have worked as hard as they themselves have. Then again, Settlers account for more people who are in less wealthy socioeconomic groups, so it could be that the ‘hard lives’ of poor people in the second statement resonates more directly for some.
Also this week:
  • Do our values make us act more or less selfishly? See what you make of these snippets of psychology that suggest so
  • Just how many lay opinions does it take to outweigh an expert’s opinion? This study may have the answer
And finally this week, Charlie’s Attic, the rickety, leaking, but organic loft conversion, designed and built without a drop of expert opinion:
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