Was I an unwitting subject of a psychology experiment?

psychology experiment
Image via Answers.com

93% of tweets sent during commuter hours are complaints about trains or fellow passengers on them.

As much as I can, therefore, I try to limit the amount I say about trains – with the notable exception of an entire essay on why we should ban quiet carriages.

I’m breaking this self-restriction, though, to report the following: on a 1.5-hour journey, the person sitting next to me bumped me with their elbow approximately once every two minutes. When I say bump, I’m talking a hefty whack caused by them putting their hands in their coat pockets and taking them out again, and not just the occasional nudge. It became so incessant that I actually got used to it; on at least two occasions I nodded off only to be woken up by a considerable jolt from my big-elbowed neighbour!

The remarkable thing about this is that (1) I said not a word apart from… (2) I eventually apologised when they looked at me in a “why are you looking at me strangely?”-type way.

It was honestly such a bizarre experience that I fear I was an unwitting subject of a psychology experiment.

(On which, this is a great read:

Thirty years ago, they were wide-eyed, first-year graduate students, ordered by their iconoclastic professor, Dr. Stanley Milgram, to venture into the New York City subway to conduct an unusual experiment.

Their assignment: to board a crowded train and ask someone for a seat. Then do it again. And again… an astonishing percentage of riders — 68 percent when they were asked directly — got up willingly.



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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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