Sunday, August 28, 2011

Romancing the Storm

It appears the latest Armageddon, Hurricane Irene, has safely passed over our home. Is it because I smeared goat blood over my doorway to avoid the pestilence? No. We just happened to be far enough away that it never really materialized into anything but a fairly light but continuous 24-hr rain. I imagine folks along the coast may have taken a pretty good beatdown. Like the guy's credibility below. Oooh. Scary hurricane. Manly and daring reporter.

Boy the media loves to whip us into a storm-fearing, apocalypse-looming, dogs-and-cats-living together, disaster-of-biblical-proportions fearing frenzy, doesn't it? No AA batteries, water, bread, milk or TP at the store! 30+ miles from the bay for AN EFFING RAINSTORM.

The amygdala is the part of the brain that decides "fight or flight" among other things. And we love to tickle it apparently, so let's get the machine rolling and start with prophecies 4 days ahead of landfall just to be sure all stocks are depleted! Give people something to fear!  Then let's go out in the horror and fan the flames!

Now I actually was watching this guy at one point and the wind was really tearing at him. I thought it was pretty impressive until I saw the video, which brings me to today's point.

Behavioral modification is a funny thing. Now I have been exposed (in Dilbert space) to a model known as the P-I-C, N-I-C model of behavioral influence that I have found to be revealing. Yes my sheep, we are trying to influence your behavior! Just as you suspected!

As it turns out, people are most likely to modify their behavior when conditions are either Positive, Immediate and Certain or Negative, Immediate and Certain. This means that you tend to modify your beahvior either toward a positive outcome, or away from a negative one, when the consequences are both immediate and certain. If the consequences are neither immediate nor certain, we tend to just keep on doing whatever we feel like.

Meteorological events offer a great laboratory for this phenomenon, and they tickle the amygdala. What a great opportunity!  Apparently everyone likes to toy with risk to determine where they are with the whole PICNIC thing.

Until now I've always thought that only those seeking risk are getting the dopamine payoff in acting out. But it could be that those staying home, tucked in their comfy bomb shelter, hoarding all the batteries and water while rearranging their sock drawers, are getting a similar payoff. And the payoff is what it is all about, make no mistake about it, even when you are paying it forward and not telling anyone else. We are only human after all.

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