This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Nuts and Bolts: stuck and struggling in a web of words.

Are you young, or are you old?

What? You want a definition of old? 

Well, have you degenerated physically to the extent that you can't walk as fast as you once could?

If you have, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the walking-slowly thing might not be down to physical degeneration. 

The bad news is that someone might have been messing about with your brain.

Professor John A Bargh at New York University has been playing games with his students. He gave them some jumbled-up words and the idea was that they had to arrange them to make a grammatical sentence. The sneaky thing was that the sentences involved words connected with age, such as old, grey and wrinkle. The other sneaky thing was that the students were timed as they walked to and away from the room in which the experiment was conducted. The result? The students who had been exposed to words about aging walked more slowly on the way out than on the way in.

(I assume that allowances were made for the fact that people do often walk faster when they're going towards something than away from it, depending upon whether it's lunch or a lion.) 

It's interesting, anyway. Perhaps the obesity crisis is being exacerbated by the current fashion for painting our walls grey.

And perhaps you're fitter than you think.

Professor Bargh did a second experiment where he gave each students one of two lists. One list had a words suggesting aggressive behaviour, the words on the other suggested politeness and patience. Then the students were individually called for an interview, and the interviewers deliberately kept the student waiting by chatting to each other. The result? The students exposed to the aggressive words interrupted the conversation, and the students exposed to the polite ones waited much more patiently.

Good grief: results like that mean that with a little public artwork about the place, and a state-controlled media, you could get the population of a country to act in more or less any way you wanted...

...hang on...


Words To Use Today: patience, tolerance, understanding, friendship, kindness, brotherhood...

No comments:

Post a Comment