Monkey See Monkey Do

When I was about nine or ten years old, I had just finished cleaning my room. It looked so good it could have passed inspection by R. Lee Ermey himself (this is my bedroom, there are many like it, but this one is mine. . . ). Well, shortly after the great cleanup, I remember returning a Tonka truck to my room – I didn’t really want to put it away at the time so I just shoved it across the floor. I noted for a moment that I had just put this truck into the middle of a very clean room, but that was okay. I’d put it away later that day, I told myself.

Fast forward about month later, when, during an archeological dig that would have made Indiana Jones proud, I unearthed my Tonka truck, still sitting there in the middle of the floor where I’d left it. I had not put it away, I just allowed tons of toys and clothes to take up residence around and on top of it.

According to David DiSalvo, seems there is an explanation. It’s easier to follow a trend.

If you’re in your 40s, and possibly even your 30s, you may recall the old commercial with Chief Iron Eyes Cody – he was the famous “crying Indian,” when he saw people polluting America. Let’s set aside a moment the fact that he was an actor, an Italian-American actor at that, not Native American, but the commercial did demonstrate one great psychological principal – it’s easier to do something when someone else is already doing it. Research showed that people will litter more in an already littered environment and less in a clean environment.

It’s called the Cialdini Effect – the behaviors you see others getting away with, influences you to join in. Apparently, even if its your own behavior.

My take on this: I believe this affect carries over and connects with the power of momentum. Whatever actions you take, you give momentum in that direction. Once the Tonka truck was out of place, made it easier to toss other things into the room. Clutter grows exponentially and this is why.

How you can use this: just as people tend to litter more in an already littered environment, people litter less in an already clean environment. Whatever you start doing that’s positive will generate momentum in that direction and eventually, it becomes a benefit of exponential proportions.


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