(I always feel like) Somebody’s watching me.
NPR published this article on their All Things Considered program. The gist of it is that people, all people, behave differently is they think they are being watched. Even if they believe they are being watched only by a supernatural being.
There was a study done where 3 groups of kids (ages 5-9) were asked to hit a bull’s eye with a ball thrown behind their backs with their non-dominant hand. If they could hit it they’d get some kind of cool prize. One group was given the instructions and then left to their own devices. The second group was watched by an attendant while trying to hit the target. The third group was told that an ‘invisible princess’ was sitting in a chair in the room and watching them. How many of the 8 & 9 year olds that actually believed an invisible princess could exist isn’t noted.
The group that was left on their own had the most kids cheat at the game. The kids that were watched by an attendant and by an invisible princess had far less cheaters.
Ok, so kids under supervision, real or imagined, followed the rules. Unsupervised kids acted like kids.
The article goes on to say that the same is true of adults but substitute the invisible princess for God, Allah, Vishnu.
Even atheists are swayed by this supernatural force but they are able to ‘stuff it back’ and continue thinking rational thoughts. I was a little confused by the phrase ‘confirmed atheist’. I didn’t know there was a judging body for atheism. Or a card they got to carry.
Anyway, we now think – what about laws? Don’t laws and punishments for breaking these laws keep people from just doing whatever they want? Yes, they do. Now. But many years ago they didn’t have laws (they didn’t?). So people were acting decent based on their beliefs in a higher power. Even those many of these people were of polytheistic religions where Good/Bad are not strictly defined by their gods.
No real profound statements by me here, I think the article was kind of silly but felt it was something worth sharing.