So I’d like to start this one off by saying something obvious: I’ve never played Survivor.
As much as I think I’d like to, I’ve never applied for the show. What does that mean? Well, it means as much I like to think I understand strategy, I have no idea about the social bonds, down time and gazillions of unaired hours that happen during a typical season.
That makes it easy to criticize, but hard to know how right you are.
With all that said, man, everyone acted dumb this week.
And how are we going to describe these amazing displays of bad playing? With cognitive dissonance theory, that’s how.
Introduced to the world of social psychology, arguably, by Leon Festinger, you’ve probably heard of cognitive dissonance before. Basically, at its heart, this theory describes the stress we go through when we hold two opposite beliefs at the same time. So, I think an example given by Festinger in his book provides the best illustration. Let’s hope I get this right … it’s been awhile since I read this.
Festinger describes a group of people who are convinced aliens are coming to destroy Earth on a particular day. They believe to survive, they have to sell all their belongings and meet in a specific spot that day. When they do and nothing happens, you would think they would realize, well, um, they’re probably a wee bit nuts. But, you see, surviving that alien attack had become so engrained in their identity, they had to believe that the aliens decided to give Earth a second chance, which is why everyone lived.
Or, basically, we only need to look to this election for an another example.
But, really, we saw Jessica deal with cognitive dissonance, I think, this week.
In her mind, she remained part of a solid female alliance of three, an alliance that together voted out Paul. But then Ken came over and told her otherwise.
Now this is why me having not played Survivor is important. You see, I don’t know all the conversations all these players have had with each other. I do know that if I was on the island, I would try to determine what rumors were true and what weren’t just like a good journalist does: I would ask questions. What kind of stakeholder is the person telling the information, what’s in it for them? Does this make sense?
As a journalist, you always receive tips from people. And you always have to determine what seems credible and what’s not. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it takes lots of reporting.
To me, Ken’s info to Jessica seemed awfully credible (even though I of course know it was from editing). Ken wasn’t being targeted. In fact, to Jessica, Ken may have been in the majority alliance now. It’s so close to a swap, why wouldn’t Ken just want to make it past another vote? More importantly, why would Ken lie and tell Jessica this if he knew Jessica and Lucy used to be allies? That would certainly come out.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? If Jessica stopped and thought about it, I feel like she should have known Ken’s information was credible. But, you see, she had built her belief system around the idea that her, Sunday and Lucy remained a tight alliance. Even though Ken’s info may have seemed credible, it caused cognitive dissonance in Jessica. This made her confront Lucy. Even though Lucy certainly didn’t lie too well, Jessica chose to believe her. It was the easiest way to rationalize her past gameplay.
OK, sorry for the short column this week. I’m in a busy season until a Nov. 1 deadline arrives. I dream of that day. But, let’s just say everyone’s moves were dumb this week, especially David giving away an idol for no reason, and call it a day? Here’s where I’m at with everyone left in the game?
Gen X — Takali
Millennials — Vanua
And we’ll end it there. OK?
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.